§ Mr. Stonehouse
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of doctors practising in the West Midlands who failed to pass recent literacy tests; and what effect this has had on the number of doctors available for maintaining local services.
§ Dr. Owen
The test arranged by the General Medical Council applies only to doctors seeking temporary registration. There are no doctors practising under temporary registration in the West Midlands, or elsewhere in this country, who have failed these tests. The introduction of the tests has not, so far as I am aware, had any measurable effect on the number of doctors available for maintaining local services in the West Midlands.
§ Mr. Tim Renton
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will investigate the circumstances of the unauthorised search of doctors' papers in the South Tyneside Area Health Authority; and if she will make a statement on this practice by her Department.
§ Mrs. Castle
From inquiries already made I understand that a young and inexperienced internal auditor of the South Tyneside Area Health Authority, during an authorised visit to a health centre to carry out a routine check on the security of the premises, drugs, cash and safe keys, etc., entered doctors' practice rooms during their absence and opened drawers. An apology has been made to the doctors concerned and to the local medical committee, which has been accepted. Officers of area health authorities are not authorised to enter the practice rooms of general practitioners working in health centres or to examine their papers except by invitation.