HC Deb 04 May 1999 vol 330 c693
9. Mr. Alan Johnson (Hull, West and Hessle)

How many of the bids received by his Department for new medical school places focused on primary health care. [81816]

The Secretary of State for Health (Mr. Frank Dobson)

The Government are committed to providing 1,000 extra places in medical schools so that we can produce more doctors. Twenty proposals have been received to create the extra places by extending existing medical schools or establishing new ones. All the submissions address primary health care issues.

Mr. Johnson

I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer. He will know that the University of Hull and its NHS partners have submitted an excellent bid based on primary and community care-based clinical excellence. Can he assure me that the largely untapped resources outside the traditional, established medical school areas will be fully and fairly evaluated in that exercise?

Mr. Dobson

I assure my hon. Friend that, in so far as it is within my power—ultimately, the decision lies not with me but with the Higher Education Funding Council—I want to ensure that all the applications are thoroughly scrutinised so that we get good-quality proposals and value for money. I cannot say any more about the individual bids, except that most of them appear to have been top quality.

Mr. Peter Luff (Mid-Worcestershire)

On new medical school places, does the right hon. Gentleman think that his clear intention, which he has tried but failed to conceal, to make junior doctors continue to work unreasonably long hours will make it easier or more difficult to fill places?

Mr. Dobson

On the assumption that the hon. Gentleman needs medical treatment to clean out his ears, I repeat that it is not the intention of the Government that any junior doctor should be expected to work longer hours.