HC Deb 26 July 1983 vol 46 cc1034-5
6. Mr. Bell

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in the light of the Chancellor of the Exchequer's statement on 7 July, he has any plans to introduce cash limits on family practitioner services.

Mr. Fowler

The Government have commissioned an independent study by a firm of chartered accountants, Binder Hamlyn, of arrangements for forecasting and controlling expenditure on the family practitioner services. Its remit includes examination of the possibility of introducing a cash limit. We are awaiting its report. Meanwhile no decision has been or will be taken.

Mr. Bell

Will the Secretary of State tell the House whether the report will take into account the possibility of end-year flexible limits in the family practitioner services? If so, does he agree that that could cause the closure of small surgeries throughout the country?

Mr. Fowler

The Binder Hamlyn study has a wide remit, but I do not think that end-year flexibility will be one of the things at which it will be looking.

Dr. Mawhinney

Does my right hon. Friend accept that if the report does not recommend cash limits for the family practitioner services there will be a need to find some other way to improve the services' cost effectiveness?

Mr. Fowler

Yes. It is important that, given the expense of the family practitioner services, we seek, as we have sought with the hospital services, to make the most effective use of resources.

Mr. Terry Davis

Given that the family doctor deals with people who need immediate treatment, will the Secretary of State tell the House what sorts of economies could be made by a family practitioner committee faced with a need to cut spending to keep within its cash limits?

Mr. Fowler

The hon. Gentleman is presupposing that cash limits will be introduced. As I have just made clear, that has not been and will not be decided until we have the Binder Hamlyn report.