§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the progress made in the introduction of triplicate prescriptions; by how much he estimates that such a system would lessen the workload at doctors' surgeries; and what evidence he has that such a scheme would enable doctors to have a greater degree of surveillance over long-term prescribing.
§ Dr. Vaughan
I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the practice of issuing a prescription so that it can be dispensed, if required, in three instalments. Many general practitioners already have694W their own system for achieving this, but the medical and pharmaceutical professions have suggested that the practice would be facilitated by the introduction of a special prescription pad. As a first step, agreement has been reached with both professions on the design of a pad that might be used for the purpose.
Neither the costs of introducing such a system generally, nor such benefits as are envisaged in the second and third parts of the question, could readily be assessed without a pilot trial designed to test the practicality of a particular design of form and also to ascertain the extent of its use. The Department is exploring with the professions the conditions under which such a trial might be mounted when resources permit.