The Times, Sept. 24th, 2007, p.6
This article analyses Prime Minister Gordon Brown's pledge in the News of the World to make the NHS a top government priority. He also promised to make £50 million available from strategic health authority budgets and announced a systematic 'deep-clean' of wards to combat hospital superbugs.
The Independent Sept. 13th, 2007, p.40
This article analyses Derek Wanless's review of progress in implementing his original 2002 report on NHS funding. The review makes a case for further investment by the government in the healthcare system. However, the author of this article argues that by criticising previous ill thought out reforms facilitated by the extra spending triggered by his original report, Wanless's 2007 review gives ammunition to critics that seek to stop further tax hikes to pay for extra investment in the NHS. In the current political climate dominated by demands for low taxation, implementing the new recommendations for more spending on healthcare will be difficult, despite the success of the earlier surge in investment in improving services. The author sees this current 'mythmaking' about the futility of public spending as dangerous, given that the UK has not yet reached European levels of public service investment.
(See also Financial Times, Sept. 13th , 2007, p.14; The Independent, Sept. 12th 2007, p.34)
Health Service Journal, vol.117, Oct. 18th 2007, p. 16-17
The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review has promised a 4% real annual increase in spending on the English NHS over the next three years. However, this falls short of Sir Derek Wanless's recommendations of annual increases of 4.4% and 5.6% from 2008/09 onwards. There is also concern that a 1% annual real increase in support for local authorities will not cover the growth in costs of adult social care due to population ageing. The funding gap is likely to be filled by increases in council tax.
Health Service Journal, vol.117, Oct. 4th 2007, p. 16-17
First-wave independent treatment centres did 50,000 fewer operations than the Department of Health expected in 2006/07. Figures from primary care trusts indicate that only three centres are performing at the contracted level and just two are over-performing. Several are operating at only about 50% of contracted value. Primary care trusts, which are locked into five-year contracts based on a guaranteed minimum volume of work, are effectively paying for surgery which has not yet been carried out.
Health Service Journal, vol.117, Oct. 18th 2007, 20-21
Argues that the Department of Health has deliberately trained more doctors than the NHS can absorb. This has created competition for jobs and for places on consultant training schemes. As the country now has more junior doctors than it needs, the Department can rein in NHS pay with confidence that this will not trigger a mass exodus of medical staff.
Reports 104 NHS organisations (31%) to be inadequate in their overall financial management. There is particular concern over 27 organisations (8%) found to be inadequate on the Commission's three core measures. A growing problem with disputed balances was identified, where organisations claimed they were owed money by other NHS bodies. Often this involved disputes between hospitals and primary care trusts over bills for treatment under the payment by results tariff. The report also revealed that costs of reorganisation had reached £192m, of which £38m had been spent on senior management redundancies.
Public Finance, Oct. 12th-18th 2007, p. 22-23
The NHS has succeeded in turning a deficit of £547m in 2005/06 into a surplus of £510m in 2006/07. However, for some organisations a substantial element of their financial recovery came not from sustainable efficiency gains or cuts in patient care, but from the kind of one-off, short-term accountancy fixes outlawed by the Department of Health.