Occupational Health

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 10th November 1992.

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Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South 12:00 am, 10th November 1992

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to increase the time that medical students spend on occupational health issues during their training.

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney Minister of State (Department of Health)

Medical students already learn about occupational health medicine as part of the standard undergraduate medical curriculum. The General Medical Council has responsibility for the content of the curriculum and has recently issued a discussion document proposing changes. Those include proposals to increase our future doctors' knowledge of occupational health matters. The Government fully support the General Medical Council's proposals.

Photo of Dr Jim Marshall Dr Jim Marshall , Leicester South

I thank the Minister. On a personal note, it makes a change to have discussions other than during Northern Ireland business.

The Minister must realise that occupational health is not taught in seven out of 27 medical schools, and in many others it is treated casually. If the hon. Gentleman has discussions with the GMC, will he impress upon it the need to make occupational health a core subject rather than allow it to remain a peripheral subject?

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney Minister of State (Department of Health)

I reciprocate the hon. Gentleman's first remark.

I take the hon. Gentleman's point. It was partially his concern that caused the GMC to issue its proposals. The hon. Gentleman is right to draw attention to occupational health being an important part of the medical undergraduate curriculum.

Photo of Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes Dr Charles Goodson-Wickes , Wimbledon

I welcome my hon. Friend's admission that occupational health has not always been taught as well as it might have been. Will he assure the House that when he consults the GMC, he will pay particular attention to comparative studies with the services offered by our Community partners which, in many respects, have a much more sophisticated system?

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney Minister of State (Department of Health)

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that suggestion.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan , Cardiff West

Will the Minister, in his discussions with the GMC, also consider the effect of the present restrictions on hospital intakes on the quality of medical training? I quote a letter from the consultants at Llandough hospital, which serves my constituency

Photo of Miss Betty Boothroyd Miss Betty Boothroyd Speaker of the House of Commons

Order. I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but we do not have quotations at Question Time. He may paraphrase briefly.

Photo of Mr Rhodri Morgan Mr Rhodri Morgan , Cardiff West

A letter to me from consultants at Llandough hospital, which provides medical training for south-east Wales, refers to the fact that medical training is suffering because of the current restrictions on intakes. The dean of the medical school is concerned that, with no paediatric intake, no gyneacological elective operations and no waiting list in elective surgery, junior doctors do not have enough work to do and medical students are not being properly trained. What will the Minister do about that?

Photo of Dr Brian Mawhinney Dr Brian Mawhinney Minister of State (Department of Health)

I have no doubt that, if the hon. Gentleman wants us to take the matter seriously, he will be in correspondence with us and we shall look at the letter that he has received from his constituents. However, that matter goes much wider than this question.