HC Deb 19 November 1969 vol 791 cc1312-4
39. Mr. Rankin

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take the steps necessary to ensure that only properly qualified persons will be eligible to practise medicine in Scotland.

41. Mr. Wright

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to ensure that unqualified people are not permitted to practise as doctors in general practice in Scotland.

Mr. Millan

In general, the enforcement of the law against persons falsely pretending to be registered medical practitioners is a matter for the criminal authorities. As regards the National Health Service, it has been the standing practice to verify that the names of persons applying for admission to executive councils' lists are included in the medical register, and executive councils have recently been advised to ask for production of the applicant's certificate of registration from the General Medical Council, as a check upon identity. Hospital authorities have also been reminded to take steps to satisfy themselves as to the identity and qualifications of anyone applying for a medical post.

Mr. Rankin

Is my hon. Friend, in effect, assuring us that medicine cannot be practised by anyone in Scotland merely because he has the price of a stethoscope in his pocket?

Mr. Milan

Certainly I can give that assurance.

Mr. Wright

When the hon. Gentleman says that local executive councils have been advised recently to look at their registration of general practitioners, does he mean before this incident took place or as a result of it?

Mr. Millan

Precautions have always been taken, but, because of the recent incident, they have been tightened up.

My right hon. Friend the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison), in whose constituency this incident took place, got in touch with me several months ago about it. Following her representations and the consideration that we have given to it in the Department, these tighter instructions were sent out.

Miss Herbison

Is my hon. Friend aware that I and many of my constituents are grateful to him for the action that he has taken? Is he also aware that this would never have happened if there was not great difficulty, particularly in mining areas in Scotland, in attracting doctors to vacancies? What can he do to ensure that the position improves?

Mr. Milan

That is a separate question. But my right hon. Friend will be aware of various steps that we have taken to make general practice more attractive to doctors qualifying. I am glad to say that these steps are having a limited effect, even in areas like North Lanarkshire where there are particular difficulties. The incident in my right hon. Friend's constituency presented some unusual factors. I hope that another case of this kind will not arise in Scotland.