To ask the Secretary of State for Health what major changes there have been in provision of services within the National Health Service since 1979.
Since 1979, the level of spending on the National Health Service in the United Kingdom has increased by nearly 44 per cent. in real terms and the gross annual expenditure on the service now stands at over £29 billion (1990–91). The numbers of people providing care has also increased. There are 14,000 more doctors and dentists and 68,000 more nurses and midwives. These extra resources mean that 44,000 NHS operations are now carried out every week including a 22 per cent. increase in in-patient treatments, a 6·5 per cent. increase in out-patient attendances and an 81 per cent. increase in day cases over the 1979 totals. Considerable improvements have also been made in screening, vaccination and immunisation. Over 90 per cent. of low birth weight babies now survive the crucial first four weeks of life. The impact of these and other developments including the general improvement in standards of living can be seen in changes to key indicators such as the decline in the rate of infant mortality which now stands at an all-time low and the increase in life expectancy.