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 do not want to take more than about half an hour, as many Members want to speak.

Deficits do not affect only trainees; they have a direct impact on existing specialists. A report suggests that, by December, 61 cardio-thoracic surgeons will be without a consultant appointment in the NHS. I am advised that 37 ear, nose and throat specialists do not have posts at present. The Royal College of Anaesthetists tells me that whereas in previous years there have almost always been about 30 advertisements a month for new anaesthetist posts—last year there were 31 in July and 29 in August—only 17 were advertised in July this year and only four in August. The president of the royal college rightly says that a great number of people in other countries are looking for anaesthetists. My concern is that if we make life difficult for too long, they will go; we will lose the specialists we need.

The Government should note that the British Orthopaedic Association has already told them that the average retirement age of orthopaedic surgeons has gone down by three years over the past seven years. Such is the extent to which we are losing services.