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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2008): National Health Service - funding

Auditors query PCT attempts to reduce last year's surplus

S. Gainsbury

Health Service Journal, June 5th 2008, p. 4-5

Analysis suggests that new accountancy policies and practices allowed NHS organisations to deflate their surpluses by up to 1.3bn in 2007/08. Without these accounting changes, the NHS surplus for 2007/08 could have been nearer 3.1bn. The accountancy changes include estimates of the cost of hospital treatment that finished in the last month of financial year 2007/08 and provisions to pay staff for untaken leave. Some primary care trusts surveyed by HSJ also reviewed their assets and wrote off equipment, bad debts and buildings.

Doctors condemn government over NHS ban on top-up treatments

L. Carter

Daily Telegraph, June 9th 2008, p. 12

Leading doctors have condemned the government policy of denying cancer victims free NHS treatment if they have paid for extra drugs.

(See also Daily Telegraph, June 9th 2008, p. 18; The Independent, June 18th 2008, p. 8)

Financial risk in health purchasing: risk pools

R. Jones

British Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 14, 2008, p.240-245

The financial risk inherent in managing healthcare services in a capitation funded environment is high. Practice-based commissioning groups are not large enough to carry the risk associated with many health resource groups (HRGs) and the formation of larger risk pools is recommended. There are, however, impediments to the formation of such pools and primary care trusts and practice-based commissioning groups should be aware of the potential consequences to budgetary management.

Private spending on healthcare

J. Farrington-Douglas

Institute for Public Policy Research, 2008

Argues that evidence from other European countries suggests that encouraging use of private health insurance by wealthier citizens does not hold down public healthcare costs. Private health insurance in the UK focuses on low-risk elective surgery; it is unlikely to meet the needs of an ageing population with chronic illnesses. However private health spending could be used to generate income for the NHS from treatment of private patients. Progressive primary care trusts could work with employers to develop company funded schemes to improve the health of the working population. Finally, policymakers and managers should benchmark NHS care against the private sector as a lever for raising standards in the public system.

Scots given 400 a year extra each in spending on health

J. Bingham

Daily Telegraph, June 10th 2008, p. 8

Official figures show that NHS patients in Scotland have almost 400 a year more spent on them than those in England. The figures show that in 2006/07 public funds paid out 2,313 per head on health and social care in Scotland compared to 1,915 in England.

Time for a rethink

J. Gubb

National Health Executive, vol.1, Mar./Apr. 2008, p. 22-23

This comment piece argues that, in spite of record investment by the New Labour government, patients are dissatisfied with the NHS, staff morale is low, and productivity has fallen. The problems are attributable to central control of funding and constant interference by government, and could be tackled by the introduction of compulsory health insurance which would empower patients to choose and purchase the services they require.

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