§ Mr. Patrick Jenkin
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research he has commissioned, or is being done, to discover why National Health Service patients are more demanding than they were in earlier decades; and what steps could be taken to alleviate the strains in the National Health Service by motivating patients to use National Health Service services more responsibly.
§ Mr. Ennals
My Department has not commissioned any research on this subject and I am not aware of any such research being undertaken by other bodies. We share with a number of industrialised societies concern at the escalating cost of health care and the need to make more effective use of scarce resources. The increasing proportion of elderly in the population and the availability of new and improved techniques of treatment combine to promote demand for health services. On 19th April 1978 I signed with the chairman of the British Medical Association a joint statement expressing our growing anxiety about rising patient expectation and consumption of National Health Service facilities. This commended the Health Education Council's publicity, intended to dissuade patients from demanding medicines unnecessarily, or excessive quantities of them, and stressed the need to consider the relative cost of alternative forms of treatment.