§ 7. Mr. Burden
asked the Minister of Health if he will take steps to remove the present restriction whereby the inducement of the extra payment of £400 is withheld from doctors entering a designated area for three years from the date on which an area is so categorised.
§ Mr. K. Robinson
A review of the criteria for eligibility for the £400 allowance is in progress, but I cannot yet say what its outcome will be. There is a separate allowance which is payable immediately on entry to a designated area.
§ Mr. Burden
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for telling me that this matter is under consideration. Does he agree that if an area is designated, thus indicating an acute shortage of doctors, it is rather stupid that the incentive should be delayed for three years before being 982 introduced, when the acute shortage is already present?
§ Mr. Robinson
It does not necessarily denote an acute and lasting shortage of doctors. The arrangements were introduced in 1966, in agreement with the profession. It was not thought that designation by itself should qualify an area for the allowance, because the intention was that it should be paid in areas chronically short of doctors. Very often areas cease to be designated after a short period.