§ 10. Mr. Fabricant
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners in Staffordshire have become fund holders; what was the figure in April 1991; and what analysis her Department has made of their performance in relation to patient care.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Tom Sackville)
From seven fund holders in 1991, there are now 20 fund-holding practices in Staffordshire. By next year, one third of all patients will be covered by a fund-holding practice.
§ Mr. Fabricant
I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his very helpful answer. Is he aware that my GP, Dr. Barry Jones of the Minster practice in Lichfield, is a fund holder? My doctor tells me that, being a fund holder, he has found hospitals to be far more responsive to the benefit of patients, including myself. Precisely what additional funds will be made available to my doctor and other GPs in Staffordshire next year?
§ Mr. Sackville
I can give my hon. Friend some very good news. The funding for general medical services in the west midlands will increase by 7.3 per cent. That is the sort of very satisfactory outcome that one would expect from this enlightened and responsible Government.
§ Ms Walley
When will the Government face the facts of what is happening with our NHS? What does the Minister have to say about a constituent of mine in North Staffordshire who has had to wait more than 20 weeks for an out-patient orthopaedic clinic appointment? Will he look into rumours that I have heard, that in North Staffordshire, because of GP fund holding, we now have an orthopaedic clinic especially for the patients of fund-holding GPs? What kind of a two-tier NHS is that? When will we get back to the real basics of real care?
§ Mr. Sackville
Waiting times are coming down, assisted by the negotiations that fund holders are having with hospitals. It should be quite clear to the Labour party that to take decisions about the services that are offered from bureaucrats and give them to doctors is exactly what 137 should happen. I can only conclude that the Labour party's opposition has nothing to do with patients, is political and, for that reason, is entirely disreputable.