In 1978, 888 whole-time equivalent practice nurses were employed by general practitioners. The number at 1 October 1990 was 7,698—a massive increase of more than 700 per cent. The latest figures available are to 1 October 1991, when 8,776 nurses were employed by GPs.
I thank my hon. Friend for his answer, which I am sure that the whole House will welcome. Does he agree that that answer is evidence of a vast—indeed, record—increase in NHS resources? Will he confirm that, since 1979, nurses' pay has increased by 50 per cent. in real terms? Does he agree that that is a sign not only of increased resources but of efficient use of those resources, which is vital in the present climate of pressure on public expenditure?
What my hon. Friend has said about nurses' pay is correct. Moreover, the total budget for family doctor services has more than doubled in recent years. The effect is clear: additional services are being offered, such as immunisation, and practice nurses are very popular with patients.