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National Health Service

Volume 955: debated on Tuesday 24 October 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he intends to take to make the National Health Service a real health service rather than an illness service.

I cannot in any way accept the implication in the hon. Member's Question that the National Health Service is a "sickness" service. Prevention of illness and the promotion of healthy living have always been important objectives of the Service. Since 1976 the Government have urged health authorities and doctors, nurses and other health staff to give prevention a new emphasis in the planning of services and the allocation of resources, and in advice to, and the care of, patients. With the support of the Health Education Council, the Government arc trying to encourage the public to accept greater personal responsibility for promoting their own health and that of their families by adopting a healthy life style. Additional funds have been made available to the council.

asked the Secretary of State for Socal Services (1) if he intends to introduce legislation on the reorganisation of the National Health Service in advance of receiving and considering the report of the Royal Commission;(2) when he expects to receive the report of the Royal Commission on the National Health Service; and if he will make a statement;(3) if he is satisfied that the present form of administering the National Health Service is the right one; and if he intends to introduce legislation to reform the present structure.

The Government have never approved of the present structure of the Health Service, and since taking office I have brought about a number of changes, including a streamlining of the administration in some areas and a reduction in management costs that we expect will release an extra £13 million for patient care this year. However, we have made it clear that we will not make any general changes until after we have received the recommendations of the Royal Commission—which we expect in the first half of next year—and have discussed them with staff and other interests.