HC Deb 12 July 1972 vol 840 cc1572-3
19. Mr. Carmichael

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what total sums have been paid to National Health Service psychiatrists for their services in examining and reporting on children referred to them by the children's panels.

Mr. Monro

Records of payments of this kind to individual psychiatrists are not maintained in my right hon. Friend's Department.

Mr. Carmichael

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that payments are made? Is he aware that a number of psychiatrists refuse to accept payments, believing that they should be part of the community assessment of the people referred by the panel? In addition—and this is more important in some ways—they do the work during National Health Service time and they use National Health Service facilities. Therefore, they do not see why they should be paid for doing a job like this.

Mr. Monro

I note that there are a number of psychiatrists who are unwilling to accept a fee. Under their contracts with the regional hospital board they are entitled to a fee should they wish it, but they do not have to accept the fee and need not apply for it.

Mr. David Steel

Will the Undersecretary of State accept that it would be useful for his Department to issue guidance to children's panels on this matter? Not only psychiatrists but also general practitioners vary very much in the practice of charging fees for advising panels. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that there should be standard practice?

Mr. Monro

Again, I note what the hon. Gentleman says. If he feels that there is some misunderstanding about this, I will look at it and, if necessary, give guidance to the panels and the psychiatrists.

Dr. Miller

Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any truth in recent statements that there is a considerable shortage of psychiatrists in Scotland for these and similar jobs? If there is a shortage, what are the Government doing about it?

Mr. Monro

It is difficult to be certain whether there is a specific shortage. The numbers have increased substantially in the last few years and we have recently asked local authorities to give to regional hospital boards an indication of the number of psychiatrists required for this work. The Government are aware of this and are looking at the position carefully.