HC Deb 01 February 1990 vol 166 cc421-2
4. Dr. Goodson-Wickes

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has for the promotion of preventive health care; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Needham

The Government have made health promotion a major priority in developing health and social services in Northern Ireland.

Dr. Goodson-Wickes

My hon. Friend recognises the increasingly important part played by preventive medicine in the National Health Service throughout the country. Can he reassure the House that the funding for such a programme in Northern Ireland is on a par with that in the remainder of the United Kingdom?

Mr. Needham

Indeed, I can give my hon. Friend that assurance. We intend to spend £900,000 in the coming year on health promotion in Northern Ireland, which is an increase in budget of about 50 per cent. It has always been said that there was a higher chance of having a heart attack after an Ulster breakfast than after breakfast anywhere else in the world. It is certainly true that there is a very good chance of being well treated in Ulster. During the past five years the incidence of heart attacks has been reduced

by about 15 per cent. One reason for that is the Government's emphasis on and determination to follow a health promotion campaign.

Rev. Martin Smyth

Will the Minister expand on his answer to me of 14 November and explain how the new remuneration system for doctors will help to prevent heart disease, promote the cessation of smoking, and alleviate stress-related complaints?

Mr. Needham

The general practitioners' new contract will help to achieve exactly what the hon. Gentleman seeks, as it requires them to offer patients aged between 16 and 74 consultation when they require it. Bonuses will be paid to doctors who achieve particular immunisation rates. The whole point of the new contract is to meet the targets that the hon. Gentleman mentions. I am sure that in fulfilling that new contract, the vast majority of the medical profession in Northern Ireland will improve the health of the Province's population by extending the preventive aspects of their work.