HC Deb 07 July 1997 vol 297 cc310-1W
Mr. Jack

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many doctors were in the service of the NHS in 1996; and how many he estimates the service will require in each of the next five years. [6745]

Mr. Milburn

The statistics from the Department of Health Census of Hospital Medical and Dental Workforce of 30 September 1996 should be published at the end of July. The number of doctors working in general medical services on 1 October 1996 are given in the table.

Unrestricted principals 26,855
Restricted principals 115
Assistants 662
Trainees 1,305
All practitioners 28,937

Since February 1995, the Specialist Workforce Advisory Group (SWAG) has been advising Ministers on the numbers of higher specialist trainees needed in each hospital speciality in England and Wales. This is in order to ensure sufficient suitably trained doctors for consultant posts over the following five years. Because the factors affecting requirements are complex, SWAG reviews each specialty annually. At present, it does not review trainees in general practice, but there are proposals to do so.

SWAG recommended an additional 1,500 higher specialist trainees for 1996–97. For 1997–98, SWAG's recommended increases were within a range of 250 to 850.