To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the number of general practitioners in the National Health Service now; and what it was in 1979.
At 1 October 1988 there were 25,322 GPs in England. That compares with 21,357 at 1 October 1979, an increase of 18·6 per cent.
Bearing in mind the substantial increase in the number of GPs and the fact that our population is static, will my hon. Friend explain why some doctors believe that service to patients will reduce because list sizes will increase?
I am quite unable to explain it. As my hon. Friend rightly says, the population remains static. There are more GPs joining the lists each year and we have seen lists come below 2,000 for the first time. That is a major achievement and it leads to better patient care.