HC Deb 13 February 1967 vol 741 cc75-6
41. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health why he has abolished the schedule of maximum fees permitted to be paid to consultants who treat their patients in National Health Service hospitals; and what steps he is taking to ensure that those of moderate means are made fully aware that all necessary treatment is available free of charge.

Mr. K. Robinson

I announced this step in the House in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend on 31st January, 1966, as part of my review of pay bed policy, because I considered these fees to be a matter between the practitioner and his private patients.—[Vol. 723, c. 679–81.] Hospital authorities are well aware of the need to ensure that everyone knows that all necessary services are available free.

Mr. Pavitt

Will the Minister take some record of the amount of these fees taken over a set period? Consultants have been urged that they should charge moderate fees to people of moderate means, but there is no means of checking this.

Mr. Robinson

The medical profession are aware of the need for voluntary restraint in this matter and they have certainly given assurances that they will exercise it.

Mr. Dean

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why he has selected this time in particular, during the period of severe restraint, to abolish the schedule of maximum fees?

Mr. Robinson

There will be opportunities to debate this matter on the Prayer to annul the relevant Regulations, but the short answer to the hon. Gentleman is that we were ready to do so during the standstill and we thought that it was better to defer this to 1st January.