§ Every local health authority providing chiropody services under section 12 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968, or under section 27 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act 1947, shall provide the Secretary of State in such form and at such times as he may direct with information as to the extent to which those services are used for the benefit of disabled persons under the age of sixty-five.—[Mr. Alfred Morris.]
§ Brought up, and read the First Time.
§ 11.5 a.m.
§ Mr. Speaker
May I observe that, as the Bill has, I think, the general support of the House, if we are to cover all the work that is on the Order Paper, speeches will have to be brief?
§ Mr. Morris
Time may prove to be our keenest adversary in our efforts to complete the remaining stages of this Measure. I shall, therefore, be extremely brief.
In the Bill as originally drafted there was a Clause on chiropody services, but it was withdrawn to allow time for the drafting of a new and improved form of words. The effect of the new Clause 832 is to require local health authorities in England, Wales and Scotland to provide the several Secretaries of States with information to be prescribed by them about chiropody services actually given to persons under the age of 65 who are chronicaly sick and/or disabled. Chiropody services are provided in England and Wales under Section 12 of the Health Services and Public Health Act, 1968, and in Scotland under Section 27 of the National Health Service (Scotland) Act, 1947, which provide general powers for preventive care and after-care services.
The latest published figures for England and Wales showed that 3,401 chiropodists—all except 422 on a part-time basis—were giving service to local health authorities or voluntary bodies acting on their behalf. Unfortunately, there were still vacancies in the establishment. Treatment was given in 1968 to 856,707 people and, of these, 807,425 were over the age of 65, many being either chronicaly sick or disabled. Of the remainder, most cases were in another priority group; that is, maternity cases. The total number of treatments was over three million.
When English and Welsh authorities were first enjoined to provide a service in 1959, the "physically handicapped" were among the priority groups to whom the authorities were invited to address themselves, but separate information about them has not since been collected. I hope that it will be accepted as desirable that this should now be done. There seems no great advantage in artificially separating the elderly into groups by illness or handicap.
The new Clause therefore relates to those under 65 and the term "chronically sick and disabled" is used to ensure that the cases covered will be sufficiently comprehensive. It will be easier, in administrative instructions, to spell out the variety of illnesses or handicaps, including mental handicap, to which reference is made.
I know from correspondence that I have had with Mr. Shipper, Secretary of the Institute of Chiropodists, and his colleagues, that they will be extremely pleased that we are now proposing to make specific reference in the Bill to chiropody services. The hon. Lady the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene 833 Ward) joined me in Committee in emphasising the real importance of these services to the sick and disabled and I know that she, too, will be pleased to see the new Clause. I thank the Joint Parliamentary Secretary and his officials for all their help in a matter which is of genuine concern to many organisations which are working for the welfare of disabled people.
§ Dame Irene Ward (Tynemouth)
It is very important that the Bill should provide for information about chiropody services. A great deal of investigation and up to date administration would be very helpful. It is important that the services for these people should be adequate in all parts of the country.
§ The Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Department of Health and Social Security (Dr. John Dunwoody)
The new Clause will provide very useful information. It is important that the Bill should contain special references to chiropody. The indication of the importance of the work is the fact that nearly 1 million people have been receiving over 3 million treatments. I hope that the House will feel able to accept the new Clause.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Clause read a Second time and added to the Bill.