HC Deb 14 May 1991 vol 191 cc145-6
9. Mr. Barry Field

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many doctors were working in the national health service in 1979 and in 1990.

Mr. Waldegrave

The number of doctors in the national health service in England has risen from 61,554 in 1979 to 72,446 in 1989.

Mr. Field

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply. Does he agree that it represents a record of achievement, under a Conservative Government, of which we should be proud? More doctors are spending more time with their patients, and there are fewer of those patients.

Will my right hon. Friend reassure the House, however, that the taxpayer's pocket is not being misused to allow a tiny minority of doctors to practice politics rather than patient care?

Mr. Waldegrave

My hon. Friend is right to pay tribute to the Government for the major increase in the number of medical and clinical personnel in the NHS. That is reflected in the many more treatments that have been afforded to our people.

On the Isle of Wight, my hon. Friend may have come across one general practitioner who seems able to spend a great deal of time outside his surgery.

Mr. Madden

Does the Secretary of State accept that members of the British Medical Association in Bradford voted by a large majority against the establishment of the Bradford health trust? Does he agree that the cuts announced so far—a £7 million cut and 300 redundancies—have done nothing to allay those doctors' anxiety?

Will the right hon. Gentleman now agree to open the books? Will he allow the publication of the business plan and the Coopers and Lybrand Deloitte financial report, and will he allow the Select Committee on Health, which is to interview the chief executive and the chairman next week, to question both officials fully and thoroughly about evidence that is published and available to them?

Mr. Waldegrave

The Select Committee needs no encouragement from me to carry out its questioning, and I am sure that it will do so excellently.

The hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that there will be 300 redundancies in the trust. There is no question of that. The underlying problems of that hospital, which go back many years, are now being tackled by much better management, and the hon. Gentleman will soon see a hospital with a secure and successful future.

Mr. Dykes

Does my right hon. Friend agree that, under the old arrangements, a significant and regrettable minority of GPs treated their patients with less than the full care that we would expect and that the current much more positive response from GPs is already being manifested under our new arrangements?

Mr. Waldegrave

I think that they were always a very small minority. The new GP contract, which is delivering major improvements in services to all our patients in this country, shows that GPs are providing ever better service. It is characteristic of the Labour party, I am afraid, to oppose the new GP contract.

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