HC Deb 13 February 1967 vol 741 cc84-6
13. Mr. Pavitt

asked the Minister of Health if he will designate clearly and announce publicly any merit award which may be given to a general practitioner as being within either the category of merit for services to patients or as merit for services to the medical profession.

Mr. K. Robinson

The profession has yet to decide on acceptance of payments, which they would prefer to call advancement allowances, for special experience and service to general practice. Until I know their decision, I cannot usefully consider the matter raised by hon. Friend.

Mr. Pavitt

Prior to the decision of the profession, will my right hon. Friend bear in mind that if criteria are to be established and a points system inaugurated, the whole of the points system should be published for general practioners? Secondly, will he confirm that although this will cost another £2¾ million a year, it will not be to the detriment of those doctors not receiving advancement awards?

Mr. Robinson

On the first part of the supplementary question, I would prefer not to answer hypothetical questions pending the decision of the profession. On the second part, this is a sum of money which the review body recommended, in its Seventh Report, specifically for the purposes of these allowances. It would not be to the detriment of the profession if the recommendation were accepted by the profession as it has been by the Government.

Mr. Braine

Can the Minister confirm that whatever the basis on which merit awards are finally made, no practitioner is eligible for them unless he is in receipt of a seniority award? Is he aware that owing to a mistake in his new Regulations any practitioner whose service as a principal is broken by a period of three months is automatically disqualified from receiving such an award? Is not this an absurd and unjust anomaly? What is the right hon. Gentleman doing to rectify it?

Mr. Robinson

Most of what the hon. Gentleman has said does not arise, because no conditions have yet been laid down. At the moment the whole matter is fluid, while it is being considered by the profession. I do not accept that any mistake was made in the arrangements for seniority awards, but the effects of the rules for seniority awards, which were agreed by the profession, are to be studied in the near future by the profession and myself.