§ Dr. Roger Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will investigate the complaints made at the Association of Community Health Councils regarding general practitioner services, in particular relating to the difficulties experienced by patients in seeing the general practitioners with whom they are registered, the content of general practitioner mandatory training, the extensive use of deputising services, particularly between 6 pm and 8 am and the urgent need to reduce the average numbers of patients on the list of each family medical practitioner.
§ Dr. Vaughan
I read the comments of the Association of CHCs with interest. As independent contractors, family doctors are responsible, within their terms of service, for the organisation of their practices and for the actions of staff whom they employ. Patients are usually free to register with the doctor of their choice and there are procedures at local level for investigating complaints against practitioners.
The content of training for general practitioners is a matter for the professional bodies concerned. It is the responsibility of professional advisory committees and family practitioner committees respectively to ensure satisfactory standards 'for the appropriate usage of deputising arrangements. The average list size permitted for a doctor is 3,500. The average list size at 1 October 1980 for England and Wales was 2,238; a reduction of 39 on the preceding year; this reflects an underlying trend towards smaller doctor's lists.