NHS Workforce and Service Development

Part of Opposition Day — [18th Allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 11th October 2006.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 12:44 pm, 11th October 2006

I will carry on for a minute. I have taken an intervention and I have yet to get on to the issues that we really need to reach.

We need to understand that all the deficits are having major consequences for staff. As I said, we might have imagined that, at the same time as jobs in hospitals were being cut, they were being created in the community. Members will recall that back in January, a White Paper was published the purpose of which was to state that precisely that shift of patients would happen. Well, what do we find? The work force census showed that in the last year for which figures were available, there were 485 fewer health visitors, 760 fewer district nurses, and even 36 fewer midwives. Yet the Government seem to think that those people are somehow magically going to increase in number and be available to provide services.

The Prime Minister made a speech on this issue last month. The action plan for social exclusion says that all additional health visitors and community midwives will be upskilled in order to undertake early interventions with families. Health visitors in my constituency used to visit every family, but that service disappeared about seven years ago. There simply is not the number of health visitors to enable that to happen.