HC Deb 16 April 1991 vol 189 c150
5. Mr. Quentin Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what future he envisages for primary health care in Britain.

Mr. Waldegrave

Some of the most exciting develop-ments in the national health service are occurring in primary health care. On top of the achievements already being secured through the new contracts for GPs and dentists, there are new opportunities for building on the excellent examples of team-working between GPs, nurses and other health care professionals and to achieve closer working with the hospital services. The aim is to improve the range of high-quality, cost-effective services provided to patients in the primary care setting.

Mr. Davies

Have not the Government's new contracts for GPs in the national health service brought about an unprecedented and dramatic increase in the number of child immunisations and in the amount of cervical screening, mammography and other preventive procedures being delivered in the NHS? Is not it a fact that some of the Opposition Members present in the House opposed the new contract all along and have still not had the grace to admit how wrong they were?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend is perfectly right. The contract has produced, and is producing, major benefits for patients and it seems to me uncharacteristically ungracious of the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) not to acknowledge that, on this point at least, he was wrong.

Mr. Hardy

Does the Secretary of State accept that, in that part of the national health service and in all others, the assessment of financial performance is increasingly viewed as more important than the successful treatment of patients? Does he also accept that, unless that changes, we shall see the inexorable rise of the accountant, who will be regarded as far more important to the NHS than those in the medically related professions?

Mr. Waldegrave

I strongly refute that. It is irresponsible to say that it is not part of the duty of those of us charged with spending public funds to ensure that they are spent for the best benefit of patients or others for whose benefit the funds were designated by Parliament. In its extraordinary rehashed document, published today, the Labour party has gone a step further. It does not care for a health care market but wants a medical market, so it is coming along nicely.

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