HC Deb 01 November 1988 vol 139 cc589-90W
54. Mr. Boswell

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the first three months' operation of the Department.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke

Major improvements in the career structure and salaries of the nursing profession have been implemented in the course of the last three months. We have secured the successful implementation of the new clinical grading structure within the timetable set for the completion of the process. A new improved career structure will now be established for nurses and midwives, together with salary increases averaging 17.9 per cent. for the profession as a whole. I have allocated additional funds to the regional health authorities to enable them to fund the new structure in full. This was the largest regrading exercise in the history of the National Health Service, affecting nearly half a million staff.

On the Project 2,000 proposals for major changes to nurse education and training, significant progress has been made on outstanding work by the statutory nursing bodies, and my Department has advised health authorities of the implementation action expected of them in the coming months.

Pay settlements for 1988–89 have been negotiated within the Whitley councils for the vast majority of staff not covered by the pay review bodies.

Since July, we have seen the completion of nine major health building schemes each costing over £1 million.

On 27 September, my hon. and learned Friend the Minister for Health announced the allocation of an extra £3 million to health authorities in 1988–89, for measures to prevent the spread of HIV infection among injecting drug misusers, and from them to a wider population.

On 3 October we launched the biggest change in immunisation policy for 20 years, by introducing a combined vaccine against measles, mumps and rubella (known as MMR) for children in the second year of life and, for a "catch-up" period, at pre-school entry. This development offers a tremendous chance of stamping out, with just one injection, three diseases which lead to between 2,000 and 3,000 children being admitted to hospital each year, as well as needless deaths and babies handicapped by rubella.

A new prescribing information system for general medical practitioners was launched on 2 August. Known as PACT (prescribing analyses and cost), it is the most advanced prescribing feedback system in Europe and is the result of a successful collaboration between the Government and the medical profession. The information provided will make it much easier for all GPs to examine their prescribing patterns in details. The result should be more effective and economic prescribing, including an increase in generic prescribing.