HC Deb 21 April 1999 vol 329 cc889-90
2. Mr. Austin Mitchell (Great Grimsby)

What research has been conducted through the people's panel into the delivery of public health in deprived communities; and if he will make a statement. [80293]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Cabinet Office (Mr. Peter Kilfoyle)

Research was published last October, which included questions on the public's satisfaction with general practitioners and NHS hospitals and on people's priorities for improving health.

Mr. Mitchell

Given the value of the information from the people's panel in emphasising the problems of deprivation in health and changing the targets in "Our Healthier Nation", will that information be used in determining the location and curriculum of new medical schools? Hull university is applying to establish a new medical school that will place particular emphasis on primary care and deprivation in health.

Mr. Kilfoyle

I am glad to agree with my hon. Friend in his reference to the input made by the people's panel to "Our Healthier Nation". I shall draw his comments on medical facilities outside the normal run of things, particularly in universities, to the attention of the appropriate Ministers.

Mr. Simon Hughes (Southwark, North and Bermondsey)

Will the Minister look into the fact that there is a high incidence of smoking in most deprived communities and that the people who were polled expressed concerns about the relationship between the cost of smoking and improvements in health? One Department is responsible for the tax on cigarettes and another is responsible for dealing with the health problems caused by cigarettes. Will somebody—it might be the people's panel or the Cabinet Office—try to ensure that our tax policies are less in the interests of the Exchequer and more in the interests of improving the health of the public?

Mr. Kilfoyle

As the hon. Gentleman knows, the aim of the people's panel is to feed information through to policy making so that we reflect people's priorities. He will be pleased to know that one of the driving forces behind the recent White Paper on modernising government was the joined-up, strategic policy making and the joined-up delivery that reflects the nature of his question. He will also appreciate the work that has been piloted by the social exclusion unit to take forward that joined-up approach.