§ 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
[pursuant to her reply, 19 June 1990, column 508]: People should be free to choose their source of family planning advice. We look to all health authorities to provide a full range of family planning services to meet the particular needs and preferences of the local population and to strike a proper balance between services provided by specialist clinics and general practitioners. Ninety eight per cent. of general practitioners provide family planning services and advice. Women have increasingly turned to GPs for planning and advice so that now about two thirds of the 4 million people who make use of the service each year in England go to their general practitioners.
The letter to regional general managers referred to in my earlier reply, a copy of which has been placed in the Library, reaffirms previous guidance on family planning services. This particularly emphasised the need to give choice to encourage full take up, the need for separate, less formal, arrangements for young people and their wider health role for instance in cervical smear testing.250W
Spending on NHS family planning services has increased in recent years. Annual spending on NHS family planning services has risen from £37.7 million in 1979 to £90.3 million in 1987–88.