§ Mr. Ralph Howell
asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied that the proposed increase of 41,500 in National Health Service staff between 1980 and 1982 at an extra cost of £106 million is in accordance with the tight monetary policy which she has been pursuing.
§ The Prime Minister
As indicated in Cmnd. 8175, the Government's plans for public expenditure, which are formulated within our overall economic policy, have specifically provided for some growth in hospital and community health services expenditure—about 75 per cent. of which is attributable to staff costs—in order to meet rising costs associated with demographic changes and improvements in medical techniques, and so on.
The manpower figure quoted by my hon. Friend derives from a comparison between the total number of staff—in whole-time equivalent terms—employed in the NHS in Great Britain in September 1979–939,700—and a tentative estimate of likely staffing levels in September 1981–981,200—based on the expenditure plans for the NHS in Cmnd. 8175. These allowed for an increase in current expenditure on hospitals and community health services from. £5,407 million in 1979–80 to £5,635 million in 1981–82, at 1980 survey prices, an increase in real terms of just over 4 per cent. over the two financial years. The projected increase in NHS manpower over the same period is broadly in line with the planned increase in total revenue expenditure. The manpower figure cannot meaningfully be related however to the figure of £106 million which appeared in the Supply Estimates. This was derived for a different purpose and covered one financial year, as the Financial Secretary explained in his letter of 14 September to my hon. Friend.