HC Deb 11 June 1968 vol 766 cc11-3
10. Mr. Gardner

asked the Minister of Health what steps he proposes to take to improve facilities for obtaining medicines prescribed by doctors in rural areas.

Mr. K. Robinson

Executive councils are responsible for securing the provision of adequate pharmaceutical services in their areas and for dealing with any local difficulties which may arise. I am not aware of any need for general action.

Mr. Gardner

Is my right hon. Friend aware that with the growing number of old people and the progressive decline in rural transport services it is becoming more and more difficult for old people to get to chemists' shops to get prescriptions made up? Will he ask local executive councils to look at the whole problem again?

Mr. Robinson

I think that executive councils keep this matter continuously under review. The difficulties in remote areas are often eased by informal arrangements, or, where these are not appropriate, by schemes organised with safeguards and with the advice of the Pharmaceutical Society for the collection of prescriptions and the delivery of medicines.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

In considering the difficulty of dealing with prescriptions, may I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to forget the problem of people in remote country areas buying household remedies? Will he give an assurance that the general sale list to meet these needs will, from the start, be made as wide as possible?

Mr. Robinson

I hardly think that that arises out of this Question, but I think that I gave the hon. Gentleman similar assurances during the Committee stage of the Medicines Bill.

Mr. Cant

Is my right hon. Friend aware that in important urban areas such as Stoke-on-Trent there are pharmaceutical deserts in which people do not have access to chemists' shops? Will my right hon. Friend consult the executive councils to try to set up a chain of pharmaceutical prescription collection points, because the pharmaceutical authorities are favourably disposed towards that suggestion?

Mr. Robinson

If my hon. Friend has a particular area in mind and would like to send me details, I will certainly look into it, but I should remind the House that I have no power to require a pharmacist to practice in a particular place.