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Welfare Reform on the Web (February 2010): National Health Service - funding

Can spending thaw icy economies?

K. Walshe

Health Service Journal, Jan. 21st 2010, p. 16-17

Presents a brief overview of what the NHS can learn from how health systems in other countries are coping with the current recession. In some countries, such as Austria and Germany, governments are planning to spend more on health to stimulate their economies. In contrast, central and eastern European states with fragile health systems based on social insurance are facing disaster with funds going into deficit, spending cut and co-payments soaring. Generally, healthcare systems with a single source of income (like the NHS) or whose income is tied to employment are much more vulnerable than those funded by a mix of taxation, social insurance and co-payment.

Funding and performance of healthcare systems in the four countries of the UK before and after devolution

S. Connolly, G. Bevan and N. Mays

Nuffield Trust, 2010

In most areas of performance where data can be compared, England is doing better than the other nations and Scotland in particular is trailing. The English NHS has higher levels of activity and productivity and lower waiting times, although comparison with Scotland on waiting times is difficult because of lack of data. It has done all of this with considerably less money per patient than the other nations, although all have seen increases in funding in the last decade. It is also the only nation to have backed up targets for waiting time and other indicators with public reporting, ratings systems and tough performance management, designed to penalise failure and reward success. Extra investment in England has also been partly dependent on performance, through the Treasury's public service agreements.

(For summary and comment see Health Service Journal, Jan. 21st 2010, p. 12-13)

NICE blocks arthritis lifeline

K. Devlin

Daily Telegraph, Jan. 19th 2010, p. 1

The Scottish Medicines Consortium has approved the drug Roactemra for use with patients suffering from rheumatoid arthritis although treatments will cost 9,000 per patient per year. It is currently unavailable in England as the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has provisionally recommended that the drug is not cost effective. This case will bring new accusations of medical apartheid within Britain.

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