HC Deb 02 February 1999 vol 324 cc724-6
13. Mrs. Louise Ellman (Liverpool, Riverside)

What assessment he has made of the role primary health care plays in improving health service provision in Liverpool. [67171]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Denham)

More than 90 per cent. of patient contact in the national health service takes place in primary care. In Liverpool, general practitioners and primary health care teams have a major role to play in improving the health of local people and in further developing services. That includes participation in the primary care groups where a key priority will be improving access to local services closer to where people live, rather than in a hospital setting.

Mrs. Ellman

Does the Minister agree that in areas such as Liverpool, where many people suffer chronic ill health, it is absolutely essential that all parts of the health service work together effectively and co-operate with social services? How will his Department encourage the health authority in Liverpool to ensure that primary health care is used to its maximum, working together with community hospitals so that the pressures of chronic ill health do not concentrate solely on the acute hospitals such as the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS trust.

Mr. Denham

A series of measures is already in hand, or will be introduced in the Health Bill, and will produce precisely the result that my hon. Friend would like. Already, in addition to the development of primary care groups, which we encourage to enable the health authority to grow and develop, there is a health action zone, and the health authority, in co-operation with others, will develop a health improvement programme identifying how primary health care should be improved. The Health Bill will place a duty of partnership on all parts of the NHS. I believe that in Liverpool and elsewhere we are getting the structures right, putting in place the legal responsibilities and providing the resources to enable local people to lead the way in developing better primary care services.

Forward to