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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2009): National Health Service - primary and community care

Adapting to change: dental prescriptions

W. Richards, J. Ameen and G. Higgs

British Journal of Healthcare Management, vol. 14, 2008, p. 500-504

April 2006 saw the introduction of a new dental contract for the NHS. This contract included a new method of remuneration for general dental practice, replacing the old 'item of service' payment with a system in which funding is independent of the amount of treatment provided. These changes provide a mechanism for improving oral health inequalities by commissioning services based on local need. Deprivation profiles may provide useful 'tools' to provide incentives for dentists to care for disadvantaged population subgroups.

Health checks on the horizon for England

A. Taylor

Community Care, Dec. 4th 2008, p. 26-27

The government has agreed to provide annual health checks to people with learning disabilities in England, although there is still no launch date. The English scheme is expected to be similar to that in Wales where the health check has two parts. Practice nurses first go through basic healthcare questions with patients covering issues such as their weight and diet and carry out tests including taking blood pressure. Doctors then carry out a physical examination.

Majority of NHS trusts now independent

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Dec. 17th 2008, p. 5

William Moyes, the chairman of Monitor, the regulator of foundation trusts, has declared that most NHS trusts have now achieved self-governing status. All hospitals in England are expected to become independent of government control within three years.

NHS warned to cut errors in hospitals and surgeries

J. Carvel

The Guardian, Dec. 11th 2008, p. 17

The Healthcare Commission's annual report to parliament has revealed that the NHS in England is struggling to attain an acceptable standard of safety in hospitals and GP surgeries. The report warned that, though improvements have been made in the speed and effectiveness of medical treatment, NHS boards do not systematically investigate why one in 10 patients admitted to hospital suffers harm as a result of error. 3,471 patients were known to have died in the year up to March 2008 as a result of medical errors.

(See also The Times, Dec. 11th 2008, p. 5; The Independent, Dec. 11th 2008, p. 8)

Pill on demand without seeing a doctor

R. Smith

Daily Telegraph, Dec. 10th 2008, p. 1

In a new initiative to make oral contraceptives more accessible and cut the rates of unintended pregnancies, the pill will be prescribed to women and teenage girls over 16 following a consultation with a suitably qualified pharmacist. Currently, prescriptions have to be written by a GP or family planning clinic doctor.

Review to examine access to NHS dentists

S. Boseley

The Guardian, Dec. 12th 2008, p. 17

The government has launched an independent investigation into why so many people have trouble finding an NHS dentists prepared to take them on. Despite spending more than 2bn to increase the availability of NHS dentistry, in some areas people are still unable to register with an NHS dentist.

A service at crisis point

C. Adams and I. Craig

Community Practitioner, vol. 81, Dec. 2008, p. 34-35

A random sample of health visitors participated in telephone interviews for Unite/CPHVA's 2008 annual omnibus survey. Results suggest that the health visiting service is in crisis and that children will suffer unless positive steps are taken quickly to increase staffing levels and reduce caseloads.

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