§ 4. Mr. Shersby
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning the Medicines (Prescriptions Only) Order 1977.
§ Mr. Shersby
Why will this order prevent dentists from prescribing fluoride products whereas a general medical practitioner will be able to do so? Will fluoride products have to carry a poison label? If so, will not many parents be prevented from choosing fluoride products as dental supplement for their children in the interests of dental health?
§ Mr. Moyle
No, the products will not need to carry a poison label. That is a misconception. It is also a misconception that the order is responsible for dentists not being able to supply fluoride products on prescription. This is because of the historical organisation of the National Health Service and the fact that the dental profession, generally speaking, has not been willing to take continuing 955 clinical responsibility for patients once a course of dental treatment is over.
§ Mr. Hodgson
As the implementation of this instrument has been delayed for six months, does the Minister agree that the Government's handling of it has been extremely clumsy and has caused further problems to local chemists' shops, which are now closing in record numbers?
§ Mr. Stephen Ross
None the less, the Minister must accept that chemists' shops, particularly in rural areas, are still closing at too high a rate. Will he say whether he has yet managed to settle the claim for increased remuneration?
§ Mr. Moyle
The hon. Members for the Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) and Walsall, North (Mr. Hodgson) are under a misapprehension. There has been a remarkable and rapid reduction in the rate of closure of chemists' shops. The offer which my right hon. Friend has made to the pharmaceutical profession is designed to protect small pharmacies that were in danger of closing. We are carefully monitoring the outcome of that offer.