Vote 11. National Health Service, Scotland

Part of Orders of the Day — Supply – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 12th March 1959.

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Photo of Mr Niall Macpherson Mr Niall Macpherson , Dumfriesshire 12:00 am, 12th March 1959

I regret that, but I am afraid that time is against us. It is unfortunate that we should have ended on this particular note, because this has been a very even tempered and extremely useful debate.

I should like to thank all those who have spoken for the way in which they have approached this debate and, in particular, for the tributes that have been paid by the hon. Lady the Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie (Mrs. Mann) and others to my hon. Friend the Member for Craigton (Mr. J. N. Browne) for his work for the Health Service.

The hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North (Miss Herbison) dealt, first, with the pharmaceutical service and I should like to deal with her question. She asked what were the costs of the services in Scotland. The average cost per prescription in Scotland is 7s. 6½d. This is 1s. 1d. higher than the average cost per prescription for England and Wales. Without going into details, I would say that, despite the high average cost per prescription, the cost of the pharmaceutical service in Scotland per patient on doctor's lists is almost exactly the same as in England and Wales.

The reason is that there are more pharmacists in Scotland in proportion to the population. There is one for every 3.000 persons in Scotland compared with one for every 3,400 persons in England and Wales and proportionately fewer prescriptions, 3·9 per head annually compared with 4·5 in England and Wales.

Each pharmacy has to employ a qualified dispenser and assistants, as does an English pharmacy, and the cost has to he covered by the fees for proportionately fewer prescriptions. That means there is a difference here, as well as the difference in prescribing practice in Scotland, as compared with England and Wales. The hon. Lady also asked about the rota system. If I may I shall ask my lion. Friend to write to her on that point.

On the ambulance service, a good deal was said by the hon. Member for Mother-well (Mr. Lawson) and the hon. Lady for Lanarkshire, North. I should like to say to the hon. Lady the Member for Lanarkshire, North that any need for an urgent order was not due to any holding back by the Government owing to economic difficulties. I think that the hon. Member for Mother-well has already made that case tonight. I should only like to add that the points which the hon. Member for Mother-well have made will be very carefully looked into. As he knows, an answer has been given to him on this point and on the special procedure for single tender which has been touched upon by him. I do not wish to go into further details. I can only assure him that the points which have been made will be carefully looked into.