§ 20. Mr. Pavitt
asked the Minister of Health what action he proposes to take to alter the present distribution of remuneration between those general practitioners providing a high standard of service and those who do less.
§ 21. Mr. K. Robinson
asked the Minister of Health if he will initiate discussions with representatives of the medical profession, with a view to amending the basis for reimbursing general practice expenses.
§ Mr. Barber
Discussions with representatives of the profession on the method of reimbursing family doctors' practice expenses will begin tomorrow.
§ Mr. Pavitt
Can the Minister tell us what form these discussions are taking? When he says that they are being undertaken with the profession, does that mean 10 with the General Medical Services Committee or with an ad hoc working party which he is establishing? Does this all mean that the Review Body is now no longer the proper channel for the adjustment of doctors' expenses and remuneration, or are these talks in addition to or will they supersede the work of the Review Body? Does it also mean that the Review Body is now responsible to the Minister instead of to the Prime Minister, as hitherto?
§ Mr. Barber
The answer to the latter part of the hon. Member's supplementary question is "No, Sir." It is certainly not taking the place of the Review Body and, in reply to the first part, these discussions are taking place between officials of the Ministry of Health and representatives selected by the British Medical Association.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware how gratified I was to learn, from what I think was his first speech as Minister, that he expressed a view which had been urged from this Dispatch Box upon his predecessor with a singular lack of success for the last two years, and may I congratulate him on the change of policy? May I at the same time ask him whether these talks will be limited to the question of practice expenses and reimbursement, or whether they will embrace the whole question of the pool system of remuneration?
§ Mr. Barber
The talks are limited to the question of the reimbursement of practice expanses, but that is one part of the pool arrangements. The discussions, which will start tomorrow, will be limited in that way. As to the hon. Member's suggestion that there had been some change of policy, that is a little unfair on my right hon. Friend my predecessor because these matters differ from month to month and one of our great difficulties is, as every member of the medical profession who looks at this subject objectively knows, that it is not easy to find out exactly what the doctors themselves would like. But I hope that we shall in due course find this out.