Road Traffic (NHS Charges) Bill — Abolition of emergency treatment fee — 21 Jan 1999
As amended (in the Standing Committee), considered.
I beg to move, That the clause be read a Second time.
In previous debates on the Bill, we have heard the Government boast of the abolition of the emergency treatment fee as it applies to hospitals. The Liberal Democrats strongly support that on the basis that the fee was bureaucratic and on the basis of the Government's further justifications for the move, which are that it is offensive to patients arriving in hospital to be asked to pay a fee and that the amount raised does not compensate for the bureaucratic nightmare of collecting it.
The Bill, in its current form, is inadequate because it does not remove the emergency treatment fee as chargeable by general practitioners. Liberal Democrats see hardly any difference between the bureaucracy involved in collecting the general practitioner emergency treatment fee and that involved in collecting the hospital emergency treatment fee. There is also very little difference between the difficulties of approaching people who may have been injured in an accident, albeit always the driver in the case of the GP fee, and patients arriving in hospital for treatment following a road traffic accident. There is certainly no difference in the lack of information about whether it is worth while for the fee to be collected by front-line health service staff.
I wonder whether the Government, even at this late stage, will consider accepting the new clause on the basis that it fits in with the rationale of their original motives in the Bill.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. John Hutton):
As I understand it, the hon. Gentleman is seeking to remove the right of independent contractors--GPs--to claim the emergency treatment fee. Has the hon. Gentleman sought the views of the British Medical Association on this matter and what opinion has it expressed to him?
Question put , That the clause be read a Second time:--
The House divided: Ayes 28, Noes 208.
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