Prescription Charges (Exemption Claims)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th April 1969.

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Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall 12:00 am, 14th April 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the executive council covering the Southall constituency to check claimed exemptions from medical prescription charges; what was the num- ber of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr Maurice Orbach Mr Maurice Orbach , Stockport South

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many clerical grade officers and senior officers are employed by or engaged within the Stockport Executive Council to check entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is the estimated annual cost, the number of prescriptions checked in the year ended December 1968 and the number of patients found not to be entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from these patients.

Photo of Mr Anthony Gardner Mr Anthony Gardner , Rushcliffe

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Nottinghamshire Executive Council to check entitlement to prescription charge exemptions; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to be entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from these patients.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Sheffield Executive Council to check entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr William Griffiths Mr William Griffiths , Manchester Exchange

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Manchester Executive Council to check the entitlement to exemptions from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and the nearest convenient date; what was the number of patients found not to be entitled to exemption; and what were the total charges recovered from these patients.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Huddersfield Executive Council to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr Leslie Spriggs Mr Leslie Spriggs , St Helens

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the St. Helens Health Executive Council to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr Julius Silverman Mr Julius Silverman , Birmingham Aston

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Birmingham Executive Council to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to be entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr Frederick Willey Mr Frederick Willey , Sunderland North

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Sunderland Executive Council to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr John Hynd Mr John Hynd , Sheffield, Attercliffe

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed by the Executive Council for the city of Sheffield to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is their estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total of the charge recovered from these patients.

Photo of Mr Edward Leadbitter Mr Edward Leadbitter , Hartlepools, The

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of clerical grade officers and senior officers employed in the Northern Region and Hartlepool, respectively, to check the entitlement to exemption from prescription charges; what is the estimated annual cost; what was the number of prescriptions checked between September 1968 and January 1969; what was the number of patients found not to have been entitled to exemption; and what was the total charge recovered from those patients.

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

As a number of figures are involved, I will, with permission, circulate a tabular statement in the OFFICIAL REPORT

Photo of Mr Sydney Bidwell Mr Sydney Bidwell , Southall

I look forward eagerly to seeing those figures. Is it not a fact that the return to prescription charges generally undermines our Socialist ideas? Should we not get rid of this taxation on the sick as soon as we possibly can, so as to get back the favour of our supporters in the country?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I should have thought that that was a somewhat different question from the question which my hon. Friend asked me, which was about the cost of the staff employed. I can help him by saying that I estimate that the cost of staff averages less than ¼d. for each exempted prescription, or about ¼d. for each prescription charge of 2s. 6d. I hope that my hon. Friend will take that as a general reply.

Photo of Mr Frank Hooley Mr Frank Hooley , Sheffield, Heeley

Would my right hon. Friend agree, though, since he knows the figures and we at the moment do not, that they will show that this exercise in the principle of individual selectivity in the social services is not useful in terms of money or manpower? Will he in future resist this individual selectivity principle which is so urgently demanded by hon. Members opposite?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If my hon. Friend is asking me whether I expect further charges to be imposed on the Health Service, the answer is "No."

Photo of Mr William Griffiths Mr William Griffiths , Manchester Exchange

Although we do not know these figures yet, my right hon. Friend will be aware that we have the advantage of having seen the figures for the London area. In the light of an Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Willesden, West (Mr. Pavitt), would my right hon. Friend not agree that money would be better spent on extending the exemptions among the chronic sick or, indeed, exempting secondary school children over 15? Would he read again his speeches from the 1950s on?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

If my hon. Friend is referring to the figures for Willesden or London, I suggest that he waits and considers the figures for the rest of the country, because I think there is no evidence that increases in the total wages bill exceed expectations.

Photo of Mr Ken Lomas Mr Ken Lomas , Huddersfield West

Is my right hon. Friend not aware that we should not have given him permission to answer all these Questions together because we are not in possession of the facts? But would he say how this accords with the speeches and statements made by himself, the Prime Minister and the Minister of Health at the time on this subject? Is it worth the candle to do this for 2s. 6d?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

I think the Question that my hon. Friend asked was about the cost of the clerical grade officers and I am not sure that that has very much to do with speeches about prescription charges. What he is asking me is whether the administrative burden is financially heavy, and all I can say is that in that way the imposition of these charges has not had an effect other than that anticipated.

Photo of Mr Julius Silverman Mr Julius Silverman , Birmingham Aston

Would my right hon. Friend bear in mind that the administrative cost set out in the Answer which we have not had the benefit of seeing is only a part of the total social cost? Would he remember that the burden which is imposed, not only on the admini- strative workers but upon chemists and others, is considerable?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

Yes, indeed. Of course, administration and the financial cost of the staff is only one part of the burden of prescription charges. It is also worth noticing that nearly half the population are exempted from them.

Photo of Mr Paul Dean Mr Paul Dean , Somerset North

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen a speech made by one of his Ministerial colleagues over Easter who stated that charges in the National Health Service would have to go up? Are prescription charges going up? If so, what effect will that have on administrative costs?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

That is a slightly different question. If the hon. Gentleman wants to put it down, I will answer it.

Photo of Dr Shirley Summerskill Dr Shirley Summerskill , Halifax

Would my right hon. Friend say whether the total number of prescriptions issued by doctors has increased since the imposition of charges? If it has fallen, would he attribute that to the imposition of charges?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My hon. Friend should put down a Question on that matter. It is a difficult question to answer because I should have to have an estimate of the effect of the prescription charge. I should seek to do so if I had a precise question to answer.

Photo of Lord  Balniel Lord Balniel , Hertford

Did not the right hon. Gentleman in a supplementary answer say that no more charges would be introduced? Therefore, is not my hon. Friend's question absolutely germane? Is there any intention to increase prescription charges?

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Willesden West

When we see these figures, will they be taken into account with all the other administrative charges that lie both in the hospital service and in the local executive councils? When added together will they be charged against the amount coming in as income from prescription charges or hidden in other accounts to give us a false answer? Does not this make the whole thing irrelevant?

Photo of Mr Richard Crossman Mr Richard Crossman , Coventry East

My hon. Friend is very learned in these matters. I am not sure that I can answer that question very easily. Perhaps he will put down in a precise form what he is asking about prescription charges.

Following is the information:

CHECKING OF CLAIMED EXEMPTION FROM PRESCRIPTION CHARGES
Estimated staffing and costs on an annual basisResults of Checks
Number of Officers engaged on checking (whole-time equivalents)Period to which question relatesNumber of prescription forms checkedNumber of patients found to be not exempt
Executive CouncilSenior OfficersClerical OfficersCostsCharges recovered
££s.d.
Middlesex (covering Southall)0·14·85,600September, 1968 to January, 19699,1001662526
Stockport*0·5400Year ended December, 19688004126
Nottingham County and City2·82,400September, 1968 to January, 19694,500407150
Sheffield1·31,000September, 1968 to January 1969700
Manchester0·21·81,900September, 1968 to March, 19696,60043800
Huddersfield*0·4300September, 1968 to January, 19691,1006126
St. Helens0·10·1300September, 1968 to January, 1969800194126
Birmingham0·23·33,700September, 1968 to January, 19697,60014225100
Sunderland (see also Northern Region)*0·2200September, 1968 to January, 19691,900152150
Northern Region comprising Carlisle, Cumberland, Darlington, Durham, Gateshead, Hartlepool, Newcastle upon Tyne, Northumberland, South Shields, Sunderland, Teesside, Tynemouh, Westmorland and Yorkshire North Riding0·45·85,400September, 1968 to January, 196925,1003075776
Hartlepool (see also Northern Region)*0·2200September, 1968 to January, 196970011276
* Indicates a figure less than 0·05.