§ 33. Mr. WARDLE
asked the Secretary to the Treasury whether his attention has been called to a resolution of the medical men for South Shields limiting the number of patients to 800, and allocating those insured persons who had not selected their medical adviser on 22nd March, 1913, to those doctors who had less than 800 persons on their list; whether such practice is contrary to the provision of the National Insurance Act guaranteeing free choice of doctor on the panel; and what he proposes to do in the matter in face of the local dissatisfaction which has been caused by this resolution?
I understand that the method of allocation referred to in the 1802 question has been recommended by the local medical committee, and by a majority of the practitioners on the panel present at a meeting held to consider the question, but, as I stated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne on Thursday last, the insurance committee have not yet arrived at any decision. With regard to the second part of the question, I may point out that the proposed allocation only applies to those insured persons who have failed to exercise their right of choosing a doctor or have been refused by the doctors whom they had selected. Even if it were adopted, therefore, it could not have the result of preventing more than 800 insured persons choosing a particular doctor.