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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2000): National Health Service - Funding

BLAIR SAYS HE WANTS VALUE FOR NHS CASH

M. Kite

Times, March 23rd 2000, p. 14

Tony Blair told health service staff to modernise and improve in return for their 2 billion cash injection for this year. He criticised variations in patient care across the country and identified five priorities for NHS:

  • end to bed blocking and unnecessary hospital admissions;
  • identification and rooting out of poor clinical practice;
  • more flexible training and working practices should be introduced to ensure doctors do not waste time dealing with patients who could be treated by other care staff;
  • adoption of booking systems to ensure the most serious conditions get treated quickly;
  • better health awareness programmes.

A new ministerial committee, chaired by the Prime Minister, will oversee progress and issue a "four-year action plan" in July.

(See also Times, March 23rd 2000, p. 10; Independent, March 23rd 2000, p. 6; Daily Telegraph, March 23rd 2000, pp. 1 and 2)

BUDGET ROUND UP

Health Service Journal, vol. 110, Mar. 23rd 2000, p. 4-5

Reports comment on the injection of funds into the NHS announced in the budget. These range from calls for a general non-targeted increase in funding, through condemnation of proposals to divert tobacco duties to the NHS, to worries that funding may be cut again at the first hint of a recession.

FINANCE SPECIAL REPORT

Health Service Journal, vol. 110, Mar. 30th 2000, Supplement

Covers moves to use the private finance initiative approach to fund smaller projects, the effects of the generic drug price hike, the work of the NHS counter-fraud directorate, and the effect of the implementation of Primary Care Trusts on the funding of health authorities, acute and community trusts.

HEALTH AUTHORITY COSTS AND MANAGEMENT COSTS IN NHS TRUSTS

NHS Executive

Leeds: 1999

Shows that management costs across the NHS fell by 108m in real terms in 1997/98 and will fall again when figures for 1998/99 are published.

HEART SURGERY FATALLY DELAYED BY CASH CRISIS

H. Rumbelow

Times, Mar. 15th 2000, p. 9

Reports claims by heart surgeons that the number of heart operations in the UK fell in 1999 due to a lack of funds. The figures on which this accusation was based were derived from the Cardiac Surgical Register compiled by heart surgeons after every operation. The Department of Health has refuted the claim on the basis of its own figures taken from the Hospital Episode Statistics for which operations are graded by administrators.

THE HIDDEN COST OF CLINICAL AUDIT: A QUESTIONNAIRE STUDY OF NHS STAFF

P. Lock, B. McElroy and M. Mackenzie

Health Policy, vol. 51, 2000, p. 181-190

In order to determine the full cost of clinical audit in one health board area in Scotland, data were collected by questionnaire from a representative sample of staff. This was combined with cost data from clinical audit budgets and unit cost data for staff time. Results showed that the cost of staff time directed to clinical audit was substantial. Research is needed into the value of clinical audit and the potential cost implications of clinical governance need to be explicitly recognised.

JOYLESS TRIUMPH

P. Butler

Health Service Journal, vol. 110, 23rd 2000, p. 16

The Cumberland Infirmary is the first major PFI project to be completed, amid allegations that it was based on a politically manipulated business plan, and was affordable only with cuts in services and beds.

MILBURN SHOWS 60m RED CARD TO HOSPITALS

G. Jones

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 28th 2000, p. 1

60 million of the 660 million allocated to the NHS in the budget will be held back and used for a new incentive scheme to encourage hospitals and primary care groups to improve their services. Targets will include reduction of waiting times for appointments, and making preparations to avoid a repeat of the flu crisis in the winter of 2001. If targets are missed then the additional money will be held back, and the hospital or PCG will be required to draw up an action plan showing how they intend to improve. If this fails, a recovery team may be sent in to turn the failing institution around.

(See also Guardian, Mar. 28th 2000, p. 2)

MILBURN TO TAKE SPENDING POWERS AWAY FROM NHS

A. Grice and J. Laurance

Independent, Mar. 28th 2000, p. 1

Reports that the government intends to order health authorities how to allocate the 600m allocated to the NHS in the budget to ensure that it is spent on: more "intermediate care", cutting waiting times, reducing health authority deficits, and giving GPs and community nurses a "cash cushion" to fund local projects.

(See also Guardian, Mar. 29th 2000, p. 6)

NHS PORES OVER THE SMALL PRINT

K. Day

Public Finance, Mar 31st-Apr. 6th 2000, p. 13

The government is introducing an incentive scheme which will reward high-performing hospitals and GPs. At the same time it will create a framework for intervening in failing services. A new Commission for Health Improvement will begin inspecting trusts next month and will work alongside the Audit Commission. The details of how the incentive scheme will work, however, remain unclear.

NHS RUNNING OUT OF TIME, NURSES WARN

D. Brindle

Guardian, Apr. 4th 2000, p. 6

Reports the warning issued to the government by Christine Mancock, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. In her speech, at the opening of the RCN annual conference, she said the government needed to demonstrate that its record funding commitment was bringing tangible improvements, such as shorter waits in casualty and cleaner hospitals. Ministers had as little as six months to show they can save the NHS; she declared.

(See also Times, Apr. 4th 2000, p. 10; Independent, Apr. 4th 2000, p. 6; Daily Telegraph, Apr. 4th 2000, p. 12)

REFORM IS PRICE OF NHS CASH BOOST

Anon

Financial Times, Mar 22nd 2000 p. 31

In his Budget the chancellor has made available for the NHS:

  • an extra 2bn, including extra resources from the increase in tobacco tax;
  • average annual real terms growth of 6.1% over the next four years;
  • a 50% cash increase in tobacco tax; the increased resources will help speed up the modernisation of patient services.

There will be a new focus on reforming the performance of local health services to address unacceptable variations in quality and cost.

(See also Independent, Mar. 22nd 2000, p. 15; Guardian, Mar. 22nd 2000, p. 4)

REFORM OR LOSE CASH, BLAIR TELLS DOCTORS

J. Laurance

Independent, Mar. 16th 2000, p. 7

Reports that extra government cash for the NHS is dependent on doctors co-operating with New Labour's modernisation agenda.

(See also Guardian, Mar. 16th 2000, p. 8)

STRUNG ALONG

L. Whitfield

Health Service Journal, vol. 110, Apr. 6th 2000, p. 10-11

Reports that the government's presentational handling of the massive extra cash for the NHS in the budget has engendered suspicion and cynicism among health professionals.

WHO WANTS TO BE A BILLIONAIRE?

L. Whitfield

Health Service Journal, vol. 110, Mar. 30th 2000, p. 13-14

Canvases opinion on how the extra funding allocated to the NHS in the budget could be used to force through the government's modernisation plans. If the modernisation campaign fails it will discredit the government which has centralised control, and will reflect on health professionals who will no longer be able to plead lack of money.

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