HC Deb 03 December 1991 vol 200 cc133-4
6. Mr. Ian Bruce

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the percentage of gross domestic product spent on the national health service in 1991–92; what it will be in 1992–93; and what it was in 1978–79.

Mr. Waldegrave

An estimated 5.6 per cent. of the United Kingdom's gross domestic product will be spent on the NHS this year, rising to 5.7 per cent. next year. In 1978–79, the NHS share of GDP was a full percentage point lower, at 4.7 per cent.

Mr. Bruce

Does my right hon. Friend agree that not only has the Conservative party demonstrated that it is willing to spend a greater proportion of gross national product, but, by continuing to expand our economy, we have surpassed the Labour party bid at the 1987 election —when it said that it would increase spending on the national health service by 3 per cent.—by about a third?

Mr. Waldegrave

It is important to note that if the pledge that the Labour party made at the last election had been carried through, dramatically less money would have been spent on health, for the reasons that my hon. Friend gave. That achievement represents a larger share of a larger national product and the Conservative party can be extremely proud of it.

Mr. Nellist

Has the Secretary of State seen the item in The Independent yesterday about NHS spending on opted-out hospitals? It refers to a paper called "Personnel Policy and Practice", which advises the managers of all opted-out hospitals to sack renegades and subversives. They are defined as all those who do not share the values and goals of opt-outs. At Coventry's Walsgrave hospital, in virtually every ballot that was held, 80 to 90 per cent. of all doctors, nurses and health workers voted against opt-out. If they are all sacked, who will run the health service?

Mr. Waldegrave

The hon. Gentleman actually threatened some of the staff in that hospital for carrying out Government policy. He was forced by the Leader of the Opposition to withdraw that threat, so he should be a little careful. He referred to an old paper that is regularly recycled by one of the unions. It is a little out of date. I direct the hon. Gentleman to the leader on the matter in the same newspaper today.

Mr. Nicholas Winterton

Will my right hon. Friend consider that, although statistics are helpful, the important thing about the health service is the quality of care, and the outcome of the treatments that are given? It is important, especially in my area, to accept that Mersey has achieved dramatic reductions in health service waiting lists, for which Sir Donald Wilson should be given credit in Mersey and Mr. Peter Hayes for the part that he has played in Macclesfield. However, the quality of the service for the amount of money allocated and the outcome of the treatment are critical for the people of this country.

Mr. Waldegrave

I strongly agree with my hon. Friend and I join him in paying tribute to the management of the health service in his part of the country. We are taking on Mr. McKeever from Crewe to help us with new waiting list initiatives in the Mersey region, and we are giving him £2 million to deal with some of the longer lists. We should be most proud that, despite the fact that our health service spends less wastefully than those in some other countries, our figures on, for example, perinatal mortality are better or just as good.