HC Deb 14 November 1966 vol 736 cc29-30
48. Mr. Dodds-Parker

asked the Minister of Health whether he will now seek to pay allowances, such as are paid to office staff, for wives who assist doctors in their duties at home.

The Minister of Health (Mr. Kenneth Robinson)

No, Sir. The help given by family doctors' wives has been taken into account in assessing the remuneration of the doctors themselves. It would therefore be inappropriate to make any additional payment.

Mr. Dodds-Parker

Does the right hon. Gentleman understand the greatly increased difficulties of doctors' wives since the S.E.T. was brought in? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that if he saw fit to make representations to the Chancellor he would have the support of every warm-hearted Member in the House?

Mr. Robinson

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the possibility of including doctors' wives in the scheme for direct payments was very carefully considered during the discussions which I had with representatives of the profession, but both they and I reluctantly had to accept that this could not be achieved without controls, which neither the Government nor the majority of doctors would want.

Dr. John Dunwoody

Would not my right hon. Friend agree that the maintenance of the general practitioner service in this country, particularly in many of our rural areas, in recent years has depended largely on the devoted and mainly unpaid work put in by family doctors? In view of this, will he give as sympathetic as possible consideration to their position?

Mr. Robinson

I do not know whether my hon. Friend meant the wives of family doctors. I suspect that he did.

Dr. Dunwoody

Yes, I did.

Mr. Robinson

I am aware of the great contribution that many, perhaps most, doctors' wives make to their husbands' practice and indirectly to the National Health Service, but for the first time the review body has specifically made it clear, in assessing the remuneration of general practitioners, it has taken into account this contribution made by wives.