§ Mr. Spence
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if the informal working group with the medical profession to examine the question of the cost of prescribing drugs, has met; who its members are; what are the terms of reference; how he proposes to measure the effectiveness of the group; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir George Young
The group has met twice so far. Its terms of reference areto identify ways of encouraging effective prescribingthat does not by any means limit its work to an examination of drug costs, though experience suggests that effective prescribing is also economical.
The group includes the following representatives of the medical profession: Dr. C. F. Scurr and Dr. I. W. Dymock of the Joint Consultants Committee; Dr. J. G. Ball and Dr. M. Wilson of the General Medical Services Committee; Dr. J. C. Hasler and Dr. J. Bennison of the Royal College of General Practitioners; and Dr. G. M. Mitchell and Dr. F. O. Wells of the British Medical Association. The other members of the group are three departmental medical officers including the chairman and two departmental administrative officers including the secretary.
I have expressed the hope that the group will interpret its terms of reference broadly, and that its members will seek the assistance of other professions and specialisms as occasion demands.
I do not think it would be right—or indeed possible—for us to lay down any rigid criteria by which we would judge the group's effectiveness, but my right hon. Friend intends to review its progress towards the end of this year and consider the contribution which it has been able to make.