On 1 April 1991, 65 per cent. of GPs in Redbridge and Waltham Forest were entitled to receive target payments for childhood immunisation, compared with 52 per cent. 12 months earlier. On the same date, 75 per cent. of local GPs were entitled to receive target payments for cytology, compared with 42 per cent. in the previous year.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) and I have something in common? Although I do not share the hon. Gentleman's rather seedy taste for handling stolen goods, I did believe, as did he, that the 80 per cent. targets were too heroic and would never be reached. I was wrong, and they have been a dramatic success. Will my hon. Friend call on the hon. Member for Livingston to make a similar admission of the error of his ways?
I congratulate my hon. Friend on accurately quoting the words of the hon. Member for Livingston (Mr. Cook) on 25 July 1989, when he described the targets as
so heroic … that many doctors will … give up trying." —[Official Report, 25 July 1989; Vol. 157, c. 910.]
Far from giving up trying, doctors are meeting the targets. I have further bad news for the hon. Member for Livingston. He may remember that at about this time last year we published a series of figures which demonstrated that his predictions were wrong. He will not have long to wait for another diet of his own words.