asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he has taken since taking office to raise the standards of primary medical care in the United Kingdom ; how many extra district nurses and health visitors are now available ; and what extra finance has been made available for improved surgery and health clinic facilities.
I am anxious to see the standards of primary medical care improve, within available resources for the Health Service as a whole. General medical practitioners are independent contractors and standards of the care they provide are primarily a matter for the profession itself. There has been an increasing demand for loans from general practitioners for premises, which we wish to encourage. To that end we are, in the Health Services Bill, increasing the statutory borrowing limit of the General Practice Finance Corporation and providing powers for it to buy premises from general practitioners and lease them back, which will widen the options open to general practitioners in seeking better practice premises.Capital allocations to health authorities have been increased in real terms by about 1 per cent. in 1980–81 over the planned levels for 1979–80. The proportion to be spent on health clinics is a matter for the authorities themselves to decide.We have no information as yet about the number of district nurses or health visitors which relate to the post-election period as the latest available figures are for September 1978.Primary medical care in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland respectively.