HC Deb 18 June 1956 vol 554 cc59-60W
65. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Health if he is aware that a Polish chef has been ordered seventy-two bottles of whisky under the National Health Service; why steps were not taken to stop such an abuse of public money; and what action he is taking to ensure it cannot happen again.

Mr. Turton

The allegation to which my hon. Friend refers appears to be a case of wishful recollection. During the period of seven months in 1947 and 1948 when this patient was in Roehampton Hospital, 403½ bottles of whisky were used for medicinal purposes in the whole hospital of over 500 beds. Precautions have always been taken by the hospital to prevent abuse of the prescription of spirits. Since 1949 brandy has been used in place of whisky and last year thirteen bottles were used.

66 and 67. Mr. Woodburn

asked the Minister of Health (1) what, up to the latest return, was the total annual cost of whisky supplied to patients in hospitals under the National Health Scheme; and whether, if purchased as an essential prescription, it is free of tax;

(2) whether hospital authorities are authorised as a normal practice to supply whisky to patients; and what advice he has received with regard to its curative value.

Mr. Turton

Hospital authorities may supply whisky or other alcoholic beverages to patients where this is medically necessary. I regret that no separate figures of cost are available. Excise duty is payable for whatever purpose whisky is purchased by hospital authorities.