HC Deb 30 November 1971 vol 827 cc225-6
4. Dr. Stuttaford

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are being taken to reduce delays, apparent in some areas, in dealing with complaints made about medical services to executive councils.

Mr. Alison

Few complaints about avoidable delays have been made to my Department; but if my hon. Friend has any specific cases in mind, perhaps he would let me have particulars of them.

Dr. Stuttaford

Is my hon. Friend aware that in the urban areas, particularly Greater London, considerable delays are occurring and the occasional delay is occurring in rural areas? A delay of nine or 10 months to settle one of these complaints is distressing both to the patient who is aggrieved and to the doctor who may suffer financially, socially and professionally.

Mr. Alison

I take my hon. Friend's point. A delay as long as that is exceptional and certainly should be queried. I am sure my hon. Friend appreciates that we have to balance the advantages of rapidity with the need to preserve a proper balance in the system and, above all, fairness to the parties involved.

Dr. Miller

When the hon. Gentleman is considering complaints about the medical services, would he take into account the fact that there are some areas of Scotland where doctors who are providing medical services finish their consulting hours before the men and women come in from their work? Will he give some instructions to executive councils that when there are complaints about this matter something will be done about it?

Mr. Alison

I will see that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland notes the hon. Gentleman's points.