Health: Physicians — Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:14 am on 18th December 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Thornton Baroness Thornton Government Whip, Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip) 11:14 am, 18th December 2008

My Lords, health inequalities exist for a number of reasons, and access to high-quality primary healthcare, and therefore the availability of doctors, is certainly one factor. However, it also includes other issues such as diet and lifestyle. International research by the academic Barbara Starfield has demonstrated that increasing the number of primary care clinicians in areas with the greatest health needs is one of the most effective ways of improving the population's health—the noble Lord is indeed correct—so we are investing an additional £250 million annually in new primary healthcare services. We have asked every PCT to develop a new GP-led care plan, and are establishing 112 new GP practices in those areas of the country with the fewest GPs and the greatest health needs. I cannot comment on south Wales, because that is a devolved matter.