HC Deb 14 February 1984 vol 54 cc156-7W
Mr. Fallon

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what would be the saving to the National Health Service if oxygen concentrators were prescribed through general practitioners;

(2) whether he will allow health authorities to purchase oxygen concentrators and recoup the net saving from family practitioner committees; and whether he will make a satement;

(3) what is the average time taken by his Department in deciding upon applications for oxygen concentrators.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

We recently received a report which we had commissioned which is a pilot study on concentrators, and considers whether for certain patients it would be more economical to supply concentrators instead of oxygen cylinders. Until we have had time to consider the report in depth and consulted the relevant professions and other interested bodies it would be premature to attempt to quantify the potential for savings or to arrive at any conclusions about the most cost-effective and practicable arrangements for the further deployment of concentrators within the NHS. Meanwhile, if a hospital consultant feels that a domiciliary oxygen concentrator is clinically desirable, it is already possible for this to be provided directly by the health authority, within the limits of its financial resources, without application to our Department. There are at present no circumstances in which family practitioner committees may purchase or supply concentrators.

We are anxious to ensure that whatever arrangements may be introduced for the future supply of domiciliary oxygen are economically sound and also retain an acceptable level of service to patients. We are about to seek further advice from a firm of financial consultants.