§ Mr. Michael Forsyth
There are at present 87,000 doctors, dentists and nurses in the National Health Service—9,000 more than when we took office in 1979.
§ Mr. Leigh
Does the Minister agree that those figures show the success of the Conservatives in recruiting considerably more doctors, dentists and nurses due not least to the fact that we have increased nurses' pay by 43 per cent, over and above inflation and doctors' pay by 36 per cent, over and above inflation, compared with a cut of 21 per cent, in real terms under the last Labour Government? Does he further agree that that shows that we not only have the will to improve the NHS but that, unlike Labour Members, we provide the ways and means to ensure that it is improved?
§ Mr. Forsyth
I agree, and my hon. Friend is right to point out that there are more nurses and doctors in the Health Service. He is also right to point out that not only have we recruited more nurses and doctors and increased their pay over and above inflation, but we have reduced the working week for nurses and introduced a system of grading that ensures that nurses are able to pursue their careers while maintaining contact with the patient. That is a record of which to be proud and one which the Labour party cannot hold a candle to.
§ Mr. Bill Walker
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will have noticed that following the altercation that we had some moments ago, the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Mr. Douglas) has now left the Chamber, having made use of the television cameras—[Interruption.] Is that not an abuse of the rules of the House—
§ Mr. Speaker
Order. I thought that the whole House had agreed that we should proceed without any thought being given to the television cameras.
§ Mr. Watson
Now that the Minister has answered the shamefully planted question from the hon. Member for Gainsborough and Horncastle (Mr. Leigh)—who has never seen the inside of a Scottish hospital in his life and is never likely to—may I ask the Minister to deal with the current issue? Will he comment on the fact that there is now no dietician at Gartnavel hospital in Glasgow to deal with diabetic patients as a result of the cuts that have been made in the NHS in Scotland? Will he address that problem, which is a day-to-day issue that my constituents are bringing to me?
§ Mr. Forsyth
If the hon. Gentleman is concerned about the position in a particular post, he should take that up with the general manager of the Greater Glasgow health board, who I am sure will be able to offer an explanation. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman was here when my hon. Friend the Member for Eastwood (Mr. Stewart) pointed out that as a result of the programme of competitive tendering, which the hon. Gentleman opposed, Greater Glasgow health board is recruiting additional staff in precisely the areas concerned. The hon. Gentleman has received a copy of the report showing that that has been a success. There are more staff in the NHS as a result of the investment that we have made. From time to time there will be vacancies, but there are far more resources available than there ever were in the past.