§ Mr. Dobson
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his Department's estimate of the impact of maintaining consultant expansion at 2 per cent. per annum or the 1982 goal.
§ Mr. Newton
The Government's response to the Social Services Committee's 1981 report on medical education suggested that health authorities should adopt the targets of doubling consultant numbers, and achieving a ratio of 1.8 consultants per junior, by 1996. This would have required consultant expansion of rather over 4 per cent. combined with substantial reductions in junior numbers. Subsequent experience showed that these targets were unrealistic, in part because they did not take sufficient account of the need to provide continuous, safe 24-hour cover in the acute specialties. The proposals in "Hospital 437W Medical Staffing: Achieving a Balance" address this problem, and in addition set forward specific measures for boosting the rate of consultant expansion above the rate of 2 to 2.5 per cent. per annum achieved in recent years.