HC Deb 19 May 1969 vol 784 c25
22. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the total number of prescriptions issued by doctors since the imposition of charges has risen or fallen.

Mr. Crossman

My information relates to the number of prescriptions dispensed by chemists. This was lower from July, 1968, to January, 1969, inclusive than in the corresponding period 12 months earlier.

Dr. Summerskill

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the fall indicates that patients are, regrettably, being prevented by charges from receiving treatment or, alternatively, does he attribute it to the fact that, before charges were imposed, doctors were prescribing needlessly?

Mr. Crossman

I should have thought that both possibilities were there. Our statistics are insufficient for us to draw a conclusion from them.

Mr. Allason

Is the Secretary of State aware of the widespread anxiety about his refusal to ratify the agreement reached by the former Minister of Health on the dispensing of medicines in country areas? Does the agree that there is a danger that doctors' prescriptions may be influenced by the drugs which they happen to have in stock?

Mr. Crossman

This is very wide of the Question, but I will reply briefly. It was not a question of my refusing to ratify an agreement but, unfortunately, refusing to ratify a draft agreement which had been repudiated by one side.

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