§ 19. Mr. Carmichael
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what total sums have been paid to National Health Service psychiatrists for their services in examining and reporting on children referred to them by the children's panels.
§ Mr. Carmichael
Does the hon. Gentleman agree that payments are made? Is he aware that a number of psychiatrists refuse to accept payments, believing that they should be part of the community assessment of the people referred by the panel? In addition—and this is more important in some ways—they do the work during National Health Service time and they use National Health Service facilities. Therefore, they do not see why they should be paid for doing a job like this.
§ Mr. David Steel
Will the Undersecretary of State accept that it would be useful for his Department to issue guidance to children's panels on this matter? Not only psychiatrists but also general practitioners vary very much in the practice of charging fees for advising panels. Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that there should be standard practice?
§ Dr. Miller
Will the hon. Gentleman tell us whether there is any truth in recent statements that there is a considerable shortage of psychiatrists in Scotland for these and similar jobs? If there is a shortage, what are the Government doing about it?
§ Mr. Monro
It is difficult to be certain whether there is a specific shortage. The numbers have increased substantially in the last few years and we have recently asked local authorities to give to regional hospital boards an indication of the number of psychiatrists required for this work. The Government are aware of this and are looking at the position carefully.