The number providing full general medical services was 19,957 at 1st April of this year and 20,207 at 1st January, 1965. Figures for 31st January, 1965, are not available.
Does not the fall in the numbers worry the right hon. Gentleman? Does he not fear that there may be an increase in the emigration of doctors due to the freeze of pay?
Any fall in the number of general practitioners is worrying, but I think that we should get this fall in perspective. This was a fall of 250 in the number of doctors, which is 1¼ per cent. of the total. I very much hope that nothing that has been announced by the Government will affect the emigration figures in the way the hon. Member fears.
Would not the Minister agree that these figures are very serious and mean an increasing number of persons per doctor in the Service? Can he indicate—all questions of pay and remuneration aside—what special steps he is taking to try to increase the total number of doctors coming into the Service? What is he doing, for example, about women doctors?
The hon. Member is, of course, right—the solution to the problem is to get more doctors. I am glad to tell the House that the output of newly-qualified British doctors from medical schools last year was 1,618 compared with 1,511 in 1964, and we expect that the output will increase each year hereafter.