HC Deb 20 March 1967 vol 743 cc1038-9
4. Mr. Biffen

asked the Minister of Health what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards those institutions that seek to promote the provision of private medical insurance.

Mr. K. Robinson

Such institutions assist those people who want private medical facilities to pay for them; the Government's policy is to provide proper medical care under the National Health Service so that no one is compelled to seek private treatment in order to obtain it.

Mr. Biffen

Since it is now quite clear that the targets of the National Plan will not be realised and that this will affect the resources available for the National Health Service, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that he would be more generous if he welcomed an expansion of the facilities offered by such bodies as the British United Provident Association?

Mr. Robinson

No, Sir. On many occasions I have given my views to the House. I certainly consider that any great increase in the area of private medical practice in the hospital service would be to the disadvantage of the vast majority of people.

Mr. Dean

Would not the right hon. Gentleman agree, however, that these institutions bring in additional resources to the treatment of sickness and the care of patients and, as such, relieve pressure on the National Health Service and that they should be encouraged for this reason?

Mr. Robinson

The resources in this connection are not only financial. There are manpower resources, too, and, to the extent that private practice is expanded, that directs manpower resources away from the public sector.

Mr. Rose

Would my right hon. Friend utterly reject the philsophy implicit in the Question? Would not he agree that the result of this philosophy can only lead to varying standards of provision and neglect in the public sector?

Mr. Robinson

Yes, Sir, and that is what I am anxious to avoid.

Sir J. Vaughan-Morgan

Does the right hon. Gentleman mean that he is unsympathetic to all institutions, such as Manor House Hospital, which are outside the National Health Service?

Hon. Members