§ Mr. Allen
Is the Minister aware that there is great concern at Strelley and other health centres about the Government's policy on preventive medicine? Is he further aware that 2.5 million fewer people have received free eye tests than in the previous year? Eye tests can detect serious illnesses such as cancer and kidney disease, and other conditions. Will the Minister admit at the Dispatch Box, on his first day in the job, that it was a terrible mistake to charge people for eye tests that were previously free?
§ Mr. Dorrell
No, I am unaware of any of those things. The hon. Gentleman will have an opportunity to represent his arguments in tomorrow's debate. I have not the slightest doubt that my hon. Friend the Minister for Health, who is replying to that debate, will be able to knock the hon. Gentleman out of the water.
§ Mr. Brandon-Bravo
My hon. Friend the Member for Loughborough (Mr. Dorrell) is almost the local Member of Parliament concerned, and I am sure that he agrees that his constituents and mine receive excellent service under the National Health Service provision in the city of Nottingham. Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that health centres are growing not only in number but in excellence? I ask him to join in paying tribute to the chairman of the district health authority, Mr. David White, and to all those involved in Health Service provision in the city of Nottingham.
§ Mr. Dorrell
I join my hon. Friend in congratulating Mr. White. As he said, my constituents also benefit from the considerable improvement in health care made over the past few years in Nottingham. The city has two major general hospitals, and has seen a 9.2 per cent. increase in direct care staff in the Health Service over the past five years. It has also seen a 22 per cent. increase in in-patient cases and a 22 per cent. fall in the average general practitioners' list. That is an enormous improvement in health care in Nottingham, from which my constituents, among others, benefit.