NHS Resources and Priorities

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:10 pm on 14th November 2000.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health) 5:10 pm, 14th November 2000

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her questions and acknowledge her work as chair of an NHS trust. Throughout the country such chairs face considerable leadership challenges in ensuring that we improve and develop services.

The absence of any mention of doctors from the Statement is not meant to undervalue their importance to our National Health Service. One of the most pleasing aspects of writing the NHS Plan and developing its implementation is that many doctors who work in the front line have helped us to draw up our proposals. That creates confidence, because there is nothing in the plan that is not being done somewhere in the National Health Service by good people. The great challenge is to bring everyone up to the level of the best. The resources that we are making available will make that possible.

The noble Baroness will know that we have set out our proposals for an increase of 7,000 in the number of hospital doctors. That will go a long way to meeting the challenges and issues that she has mentioned. There has also been an increase in the number of doctor training places, with an expansion in existing medical schools and the opening of some new ones. We have a more sophisticated approach to workforce planning for doctors than ever before. That will enable us to make more considered judgments about how many more doctors we need both to relieve current pressures and to allow us to expand services as we want.