Rarer Cancer Fund, 2010
This report finds that there is uncertainty about the exact level of costs associated with making available every cancer treatment which clinicians wish to prescribe, with estimates ranging from £175 million to £330 million per year. The lower figure is believed to be the most realistic estimate. The report makes 25 recommendations, including:
Health Service Journal, Aug. 19th 2010, p. 4-5
The coalition government plans to abolish the Audit Commission at the same time as primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. There are concerns that this could lead to the Department of Health losing control of NHS financial management and to greater risk of fraud. In particular, how the new GP consortia will be accountable for the funds entrusted to them for commissioning services is unclear.
Health Service Journal, Aug. 26th 2010, p.4-5
Analysis of the 2009/10 budgets and expenditure of 190 practice based commissioning consortia showed that they had overspent their indicative commissioning budgets by 2.5% or £289m. If the same scale of overspend was applied to the full NHS commissioning budget of £80bn, it would generate a deficit of £2bn every year.
Daily Telegraph, Aug. 31st 2010, p.1 + 2
The government has for many years encouraged clinicians to cut costs by switching patients from branded to generic drugs. New research shows that heart patients switched from a branded statin to a cheaper generic one received a less powerful equivalent, increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke by about 3%.
Daily Telegraph, Aug. 19th 2010, p. 10
Tax statistics have revealed that 410 dentists in England and Wales earned more then £300,000 in 2008/09, up 8% on the previous year. Almost 700 dentists earned more than £250,000 from NHS and private work. These figures will reignite the debate over highly paid health professionals when civil servants and private sector workers are losing their jobs.
The Independent, Aug. 2nd 2010, p. 4 A joint investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Channel 4 News has found that at least 170 doctors in England and Wales have agreed to severance deals containing 'gagging orders' on quitting the NHS; a measure designed to deter them from speaking out against incompetence and mistakes in patience care. The settlements are believed to be backed up by pay-offs totalling more than £3m.
(See also The Independent, August 2nd 2010, p. 5)
Daily Telegraph, Aug. 4th 2010, p.2
There are concerns about the rapidly rising costs of settling medical negligence claims against the NHS. Lawyers are taking higher fees for their work, and in some cases court costs can exceed the damages paid to the patient. The NHS Litigation Authority fears it will need £3bn more than it estimated two years ago to settle claims over the next 10-15 years.
Daily Telegraph, Aug. 24th 2010, p. 6
Roche, manufacturers of Avastin, a drug for treating advanced bowel cancer, offered a deal to the NHS under which the cost would be fixed at £20,800 for a year, after which the treatment would be provided free. When this offer was refused, Roche proposed making a payment to the NHS for each new patient started on the drug. In spite of these inducements, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has not recommended the use of Avastin in its draft guidance, on the grounds that it only prolongs life for about six weeks and so is not cost effective. Roche claims that Avastin often shrinks tumours enough for them to be removed by surgery.
(See also Guardian, Aug. 24th 2010, p. 4; Daily Telegraph, Aug. 26th 2010, p. 16)
S. Lister, D. Rose and N. Natarajan
The Times, Aug. 6th 2010, p. 1-2
The scale of cuts across the NHS has been announced and 11,000 job losses have been confirmed across the UK. Unison, the biggest public sector union, has threatened to take the government to a judicial review over the reform. Unison has accused ministers of 'conning' the public before the election with claims that they would protect frontline services.
The Guardian, Aug. 6th 2010, p. 1
The NHS spends up to £86m a year on thousands of websites that are difficult to find, badly designed, and irrelevant to patient needs, according to a leaked government report.