HC Deb 12 May 1992 vol 207 c491
13. Mr. Sims

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what criteria her Department uses in assessing the success of the implementation of the national health service reforms.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley

We measure the success of our health policies by the benefits that they are delivering to patients in terms of the improvement to the quality of service, reduction in waiting times, patient satisfaction and the overall improvement in the health of the nation.

Mr. Sims

Does my right hon. Friend consider that the fall in waiting times and the increase in the number of patients treated should be warmly welcomed? Has she noticed the change in the attitude of doctors and nurses towards the reforms in view of their demonstrable success? Does she think that it is about time that the Labour party changed its attitude?

Mrs. Bottomley

I heartily agree with the sentiments expressed by my hon. Friend. We have had a great deal of change in the health service recently. The results of those changes are already clear for all to see. I hope that the nurses and medical professionals will all work with us to ensure that we can build on those services.

Since being made Labour's health spokesman, the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) has constantly made allegations about a hidden agenda, but he has been unable to prepare an agenda for himself. As the Health Service Journal commented only last week, Defeat has left the Opposition flat-footed and its health policies irrelevant. It is time to build for the future and to build on the achievements in the service.

Mr. Flynn

An important part of the health reforms is health promotion. Can the Minister explain why Imperial Tobacco gave 2,000 poster sites to the Conservative party in the election campaign? Does not that show why the Government are in the pockets of the tobacco industry? Or will the right hon. Lady disprove that by moving a motion to support the European ban on tobacco advertising?

Mrs. Bottomley

We have seen another example of the way in which the Labour party constantly pursues vindictive vendettas. I have made the position quite clear. The fall in smoking in Britain has been greater than in any other country apart from the Netherlands. We have an effective system under the voluntary agreement. We do not support the subsidy for growing tobacco. We have maintained the price of tobacco and we do not have a nationalised tobacco industry. We should be judged on the result—a dramatic fall in smoking, which will continue—and not by the vindictive gimmicks of the Labour party.