HC Deb 19 December 1975 vol 902 cc843-5W
Mr. Michael McGuire

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will give details of the composition of Family Practitioner Committees, such as the number of professional and lay members, the system of appointment and term, their powers and how they can enforce them; and what changes, if any, she proposes to make to these committees.

Dr. Owen

Family practitioner committees are established by each area health authority for its area. Their composition is prescribed in Part II of Schedule 1 to the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973. Each family practitioner committee consists of 30 members. Eleven members-10 in certain London areas—are appointed by the corresponding area health authority; four—five in certain London areas—by the local authority or authorities; eight, of whom one must be an ophthalmic medical practitioner, by the local medical committee for the area; three by the local dental committee; two by the local pharmaceutical committee; one, who must be an ophthalmic optician, by the ophthalmic optician members on the local optical committee; and one, who must be a dispensing optician, by the dispensing optician members on the local optical committee. Except as described above, there are no provisions as to whether members should be lay or professionally qualified.

The terms of office of members are prescribed in the National Health Service (Family Practitioner Committee: Membership and Procedure) Regulations 1973. The term of office is four years for members appointed by the area health authority and the local professional committees, and, for members appointed by the local authority, such period as that body may determine.

The powers of family practitioner committees and the means of giving effect to them are prescribed in various Regulations made under Section 7(3) of the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973. Under that section, the family practitioner committee is given the duty, in accordance with regulations, of administering, on behalf of the area health authority, the arrangements made for the provision of general medical, dental and ophthalmic services and pharmaceutical services for the area of the authority, and of performing such other functions relating to those services as may be prescribed.

My right hon. Friend has no present plans to change any of the provisions described above; but if my hon. Friend has a particular suggestion in mind, I shall be pleased to consider it.

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