HC Deb 17 January 1995 vol 252 cc567-8
3. Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of general practitioners met their targets for immunisation and cancer screening (a) on the introduction of the general practitioner contract and (b) on the latest date for which figures are available; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Malone

In 1990, 89 per cent. of general practitioners met targets for childhood immunisation and 86 per cent. for cancer screening. By April 1993, this had increased to 96 per cent. meeting childhood immunisation targets and 98 per cent. meeting cancer screening targets. This is an excellent achievement by family doctors, who are leading the way in improving the health of their patients.

Mr. Bellingham

Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that those figures are a tribute to the GP contract? Will he join me in congratulating doctors in west Norfolk who, under the contract, are delivering a superb service to their patients? As Labour voted against the contract, is it not time Labour gave doctors an apology?

Mr. Malone

When Labour Members are apologising, perhaps they will point out the fact that, in my hon. Friend's constituency, 100 per cent. of GPs are reaching the higher targets for childhood immunisation and cancer screening. That is an amazing achievement, particularly as we were told by the Labour party and the general medical services committee when we embarked on this exercise that it would be impossible to achieve. The exercise has exceeded all expectations.

Mr. Flynn

While the Government are congratulating themselves on the mounting number of drugs that are being prescribed, will they consider the submission from the victims of Septrin support group, which claims that 100 people have been killed by that drug and that thousands of others have suffered side effects? Will the Government make a sensible investigation into Septrin, or are they entirely in the control and pockets of the pharmaceutical industry?

Mr. Malone

No, the hon. Gentleman is, first, off the point and, secondly, entirely wrong. The consistent evaluation of drugs and their efficacy is not directly a day-to-day responsibility of Ministers. I am not congratulating myself or my ministerial colleagues on achieving those immunisation targets but recording my thanks and congratulations to practitioners and others involved in the service on those excellent results and on completing a measles vaccination campaign in record time over the winter period.