HC Deb 14 November 1972 vol 846 cc205-7
17. Dr. Summerskill

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to complete his discussions with the General Medical Council and the British Medical Association concerning the functions of the General Medical Council; and whether he will make a statement.

Sir K. Joseph

I have not been represented in the discussions between these two bodies, though I have kept in close touch with them. I am keeping the situation under careful review and I understand that there is to be a further meeting of the British Medical Association Council tomorrow.

Dr. Summerskill

Does not the Secretary of State agree that in this matter he appears to be putting his telescope to his blind eye? What has been an internal domestic dispute among doctors now threatens to erupt into a crisis affecting the National Health Service. Will he immediately set up an independent inquiry into the functions and finances of the General Medical Council? Furthermore, will he publish without delay the Medical Bill which sets out to reform the constitution of the GMC, and will he' reverse his previous advice to that council and recommend it to postpone the erasure of doctors from the register?

Sir K. Joseph

I agree that this is a very important issue, but hearing in mind my responsibilities to the public, I must give the medical profession as much time as is practicable to regulate its own affairs.

Dr. Trafford

Would my right hon. Friend agree that, irrespective of the merits of this dispute, a promise or undertaking by him to look into this matter would probably solve at least three-quarters of the problem and remove any possibility of threat to the National Health Service?

Sir K. Joseph

I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's judgment.

Dr. Miller

In the meantime will the Secretary of State take steps to protect not only members of the medical profession but also members of the public, both in National Health Service hospitals and receiving treatment in general practice under the National Health Service, who are being affected by this arbitrary, authoritarian and dictatorial attitude of the General Medical Council?

Sir K. Joseph

They are not being affected but, since they might be, my prime interest is to see that they are not damaged.