§ Mr. Atkinson
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he has any plans to improve the family planning service provided by(a) general practitioners, including women doctors and (b) health authorities; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mrs. Virginia Bottomley
The day-to-day management of family planning services is a matter for individual health authorities since they can best judge local circumstances and priorities. The Government continue to regard family planning as an important preventive service. Guidance issued by the Department of Health makes clear that health authorities should ensure that full use is made of family planning services and that a proper balance is struck between services provided by specialist clinics and508W those provided by GPs. This guidance was recently reiterated in a letter to regional general managers by the director of operations and planning on the NHS management executive. The Government also remain committed to encouraging and helping women doctors to enter general practice. The new contract which came into force from 1 April 1990 benefits women doctors in a number of ways:
- —capitation-based system encourages partnerships to offer the patients the choice of both men and women doctors.
- —women doctors will be particularly attractive to partnerships if they offer one of the specialties for which the new fees are being paid, for example, minor surgery, child health surveillance.
- —arrangements for part-time working and job sharing are being formalised.
- —qualifications for locum cover during confinement have been eased.