HC Deb 09 May 1972 vol 836 cc1112-3
8. Mr. Dormand

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of health education officers employed by local authorities; and what is the number of local authorities employing them as a percentage of those local authorities empowered to appoint such officers.

Mr. Alison

The local authorities with the major responsibility for health education are the local health authorities; these are mainly the counties, county boroughs and London boroughs. Of these about 60 per cent. are employing a total of about 200 full-time health education officers.

Mr. Dormand

These are very interesting figures, but would the Under-Secretary agree that much greater emphasis needs to be placed on more preventive measures in health matters either by the appointment of additional health education officers or by some other means? Would he further agree that the climate of opinion is such that these measures would be accepted? If these things were done the saving might amount even to millions of pounds if we are to adopt the old adage that prevention is better than cure.

Mr. Alison

I share the hon. Member's enthusiasm for the value of preventive medicine. It has to be borne in mind that not only full-time health education officers but also the normal run of health professionals—doctors, dentists, health visitors, district nurses and so forth—have their part to play in health education. In the context of National Health Service reorganisation, we shall be looking again very closely at developing this side of preventive medicine.