§ 49. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Minister of Health if he will now take steps to ensure that old-age pensioners are given free transport to hospitals where they receive necessary treatment and back to their homes.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Health (Miss Patricia Hornsby-Smith)
No, Sir. Where an ambulance is necessary for medical reasons it is provided free. Any others who cannot afford the fare to hospital by public transport can already get help after assessment by the National Assistance Board.
§ Mr. Hughes
Does the Minister realise that this has an important bearing on the health of old age-pensioners and, indeed, on the national economy, because the provision of ambulances costs far more than the 2d. or 4d. old-age pensioners would have to pay for public transport; but it means a great deal to old-age pensioners? Will she look at the question again?
§ Miss Hornsby-Smith
Medical necessity and not age has long been the criterion. That was agreed by the other party when in power, and we see no reason to dissent from it. Medical necessity should be the criterion in providing public transport and not age.
§ Mr. Hughes
I regret to have to say that, having regard to the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I shall raise this matter in another way at the earliest possible opportunity.