HL Deb 03 June 1985 vol 464 cc483-4

2.41 p.m.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are satisfied with the working of the recent drug prescription regulations.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security (Baroness Trumpington)

Yes, my Lords, we have been impressed by the smoothness of the introduction of the selected list and recognise that this is in large part due to the efforts of doctors and pharmacists. We hope that it is now generally recognised that the selected list is a very sensible way of making better use of National Health Service resources without harming patients.

Baroness Macleod of Borve

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for that encouraging reply. Does she agree that it is likely that an amount in the region of £75,000 a year might be saved? If that is so, on what will that amount—I am sorry, I should have said £75 million—be spent?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, in answer to my noble friend, the savings will go to help fund other parts of the National Health Service. By reducing the drugs bill we have been able to increase the funds devoted to other aspects of health care.

Lord Taylor of Blackburn

My Lords, is the Minister aware that while she may be satisfied, the department may be satisfied and the Government may be satisfied, there are many patients who are not satisfied?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, patients who are worried about how the selected list affects their medication should discuss the matter with their doctor, who should be able to advise on any necessary change.

Lord Ennals

My Lords, bearing in mind the point just made by the noble Baroness, Lady Trumpington, is she not aware that some doctors are themselves very much in a quandary? Certainly some doctors who treat patients, particularly children, can find no satisfactory alternative at all to expectorants or to mucolytic drugs, both of which have been banned. Can the noble Baroness say what progress has been made in the establishment of the appeal system which it was announced would be introduced, and also in the review system for the black list?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, we accept the view that there may be very occasional cases when, for individual reasons, a patient needs a drug which is not generally available under the National Health Service. Therefore, on 16th April the Government's proposals for an appeal mechanism were announced. We are awaiting the BMA's response.

With regard to the noble Lord's question about the review committee, we hope that the review committee will be set up and members appointed in the next few weeks.

The Lord Bishop of Norwich

My Lords, is the Minister aware that there may be the suggestion of a little self-help among noble Lords, because many of us have links with the great hospitals? When we hear of a particular drug which is irreplaceable, which one of the very responsible hospitals has discovered over a fairly long period in the first 12 months of the operation of this list, would the noble Baroness allow us to bring that particular drug, by name, by letter before her?

Baroness Trumpington

My Lords, the list has been carefully compiled to meet the clinical needs of patients in hospitals as well as those being treated by general practitioners. In drawing up the list, advice has been taken from experts with experience of treating and prescribing for patients in hospital. There should be no need to depart from it.