NHS Staff

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th June 1993.

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Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr 12:00 am, 9th June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many additional nurses and doctors have been employed in the NHS since 1979; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

At 30 September 1992, there were 11,192 more qualified nurses employed in the national health service in Scotland than there were on 30 September 1979. The number of doctors, including general medical practitioners, increased by 1,448 over the same period.

Photo of Mr Phil Gallie Mr Phil Gallie , Ayr

When there are more doctors and more nurses, whose pay has risen by more than 40 per cent. in recent times, when nurses and junior doctors have shorter working hours, and when there are new hospitals and new clinics, why do Opposition Members always tell us that the morale of staff in the health service is at a low ebb?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

As always, my hon. Friend is entirely right to say that, on this issue, as on other Scottish issues, Opposition Members are in the disinformation business. In real terms, NHS expenditure has increased by 45 per cent. since 1979–80, and on every indicator, the provision of services by the NHS in Scotland has improved steadily under this Government.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

Is the Minister aware of the concern among nurses and patients at Falkirk royal infirmary about the current threat to the hospital's urology department, and the general tendency of the Forth Valley health board gradually to run down the Falkirk royal infirmary and centralise everything at Stirling? Will the Minister intervene to ensure that that trend ceases and Falkirk royal infirmary can provide the full range of services that the people of Falkirk district need and deserve?

Mr. Sewart:

The hon. Gentleman will recognise that those are decisions for the health board. However, I can reassure the hon. Gentleman by saying that the resources made available to Forth Valley of £139·6 million for the current financial year represent an increase of 3·3 per cent. over the 1992–93 base purchaser allocation. That is a sign of the resources available, but detailed decisions must be for the health board to make.

Photo of Mr Geoffrey Dickens Mr Geoffrey Dickens , Littleborough and Saddleworth

Does my hon. Friend recognise that the excellence of the health service in Scotland and elsewhere is such that people now, God willing, enjoy a much longer life? Is that not vividly illustrated by the fact that, in her first year on the throne Her Majesty the Queen sent 210 telegrams to 100-year-olds, and that last year she sent 2,800 congratulatory telegrams—[HoN. MEMBERS: "All to Scotland?"] No, not all to Scotland. Does that not illustrate the merits of the national health service during the past 14 years under Conservative Governments?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

My hon. Friend is correct to say that more and more Scots are living longer and longer. My hon. Friend has given the House a useful indicator, and all other signs point in the same direction. Under this Government, the number of in-patients treated per annum has increased by 27 per cent. and day patients by 180 per cent. Every figure underlines the effectiveness of this Government's commitment to the national health service in Scotland.

Photo of Mr Jimmy Wray Mr Jimmy Wray , Glasgow Provan

Does the Minister agree that the health service is the most caring and compassionate profession? It is the profession's duty to protect the sanctity of human life, and a shiver has been sent through the old, the hospice movement and the disabled by the Bill on euthanasia. Will the Minister oppose it with all his might, and will the Government oppose it?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

All hon. Members will take their own decisions on that Bill in the light of their own consciences. Speaking as an hon. Member, not a Minister, I have received a large number of representations from constituents and from those invoved in the hospice movement, and they accord with my personal view, which is one of opposition to the Bill.

Photo of Mrs Maria Fyfe Mrs Maria Fyfe , Glasgow Maryhill

Will the Minister tell us this afternoon about the growth in the number of senior managers in the last year? His own statistics, published by the Scottish Office, show that the number has risen by no less than 30 per cent. in one year alone. How many nurses and midwives in training have we lost in the past 12 years; and how many beds have been lost in the past 12 years? More importantly, will the Minister state categorically what cuts he is contemplating for the health service when the Treasury comes looking for his share of the £50 billion deficit?

Photo of Mr Allan Stewart Mr Allan Stewart , East Renfrewshire

There has been no increase in senior management numbers in the health service; there has merely been a redefinition of the number of positions previously allocated to staff groups but now separately identified.

As for the hon. lady's general point about cuts, there have been been no cuts in the health service or in provision for the health service in Scotland. [Laughter.] The hon. lady laughs. She is clearly incapable of reading the figures. —[Interruption.]—or of understanding them. How many more figures does she want'? I can reassure her that provision for national health service spending in Scotland has increased not in nominal terms but in real terms by 45 per cent. since 1979–80. The Opposition simply cannot deny these basic facts.