Guardian, July 23rd 2001, p.8-9.
Describes the problems faced by the new University Hospital of North Durham, one of the first built through the private finance initiative. Difficulties include acute bed shortages, technical and design faults, staff cuts and exploitation of patients who are being charged for use of flower vases! It is argued that these problems arise from the need to find money to repay the private contractor for his investment.
Financial Times, Aug. 10th 2001, p.17.
The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) has begun to take steps towards treatment rationing. Crucial to its recommendations on whether or not a treatment should be available on the NHS is the Quality Adjusted Life Year (QALY) which attempts to assess improved quality of life as well as extra years gained. NICE has been reluctant to recommend the use of technologies with a cost of more than £30,000 per life year gained.
D Dawson, M Goddard and A Street
Health Policy, vol.57, 2001, p.235-248.
In order to encourage performance improvements, the government has set targets for acute hospitals to reduce their unit costs. However, the cost improvements may not be realised in England. Firstly, there are insufficient incentives to respond appropriately to the provision of comparative cost information. Secondly, there is more than one index purporting to measure relevant hospital costs. As comparison of unit costs is highly dependent on the measurement technique adopted, caution should be exercised when setting performance targets.
Political Quarterly, vol.72, 2001 p.322-328.
Article examines how the Labour government of 1997-2001 dealt with the conflict between the need to control NHS expenditure on drugs and the need for pharmaceutical companies to make profits. Covers the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS), the role of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the crisis in generics. There has been a move towards a more formal and rule-based regulation of the pharmaceutical industry, related to an erosion of trust between government and the industry, and accompanied by a fragmentation of public policy.
Guardian, July 30th 2001, p.7.
Reports leaked government plans to sell off 51% of Inventures, the trading arm of NHS Estates. This body advises managers on new buildings and sells off redundant hospitals.
Daily Telegraph, Aug 6th 2001, p.7.
An estimated £1 billion goes on private health care from the National Health Service's budget each year as a result of current and anticipated settlements for clinical negligence. It is argued that patients could be cared for more cheaply by the health service. However, under the 1948 Law Reform Act, severely damaged patients who win compensation through courts or in legal settlements, must be cared for privately.
L Ward and J Meikle
Guardian, Aug. 9th 2001, p.5.
The National Health Service's (NHS) recent purchase of a London Heart Hospital is unlikely to become a blueprint for the future but Department of Health sources have said opportunities would be seriously considered. The purchase suggests that while the government wants to work with the private sector, the NHS remains, "in the driving seat" in the partnership. Article goes on to discuss the pros and cons of the Private Finance Initiative projects which lie at the heart of government plans to increase the capacity of the NHS.
Daily Telegraph, Aug 6th 2001, p.6.
John Prescott has raised the prospect of a rise in taxes to pay for improved public services. He stressed that the Labour government is committed to, 'spending more as a proportion of GDP on health than ever before', but added that huge amounts of money are needed to meet the demands of the health service. An increase in the basic rate of tax of 7p is needed to bring spending on the health service up to the "Euro zone" average.
Health Service Journal, vol.111, Aug. 2nd 2001, p.27.
Argues that acute trusts should be free to spend money according to local priorities, without detailed central government direction.
Independent, July 31st 2001, p.6.
After the new Cumberland Infirmary was built using private finance initiative money, the number of beds in the area fell by 100. The new hospital is now suffering a serious "bed blocking" crisis, leading to cancellations of operations and long trolley waits for patients in casualty.
Public Finance, Aug. 3rd-9th 2001, p.10.
Discusses the problems that have arisen in the first Private Finance Initiative (PFI) hospital since it opened in April 2000. Concentrates on issues of bed shortages which still appear to be occurring.