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Welfare Reform on the Web (December 2002): National Health Service - Funding

THE BIG PFI GAMBLE

J. Carvel

The Guardian, October 21st 2002, p.8

Article reports on how the London Borough of Enfield is working on three huge private finance initiatives (PFIs) that could make or break the local health service.

CASH SUBSIDY FOR PATIENTS WHO GO PRIVATE

G. Jones

Daily Telegraph, October 8th 2002, p.1

Patients who use their savings to pay for private operations would get much of the money back from the Government under plans for reforming the National Health Service announced by the Conservatives. Dr Liam Fox heralded the biggest rethink of Tory health policy for a generation by proposing to end the NHS's monopoly on health care and offer choice between the NHS or going private with a state subsidy

(See also Daily Telegraph, October 8th 2002, p.8; The Times, October 8th 2002, p. 1; The Guardian, October 8th 2002, p. 11; The Independent, October 8th 2002, p.1; Financial Times, October 8th 2002, p.4)

CHOICE WORDS

M. Smulian

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Oct. 3rd 2002, p. 14

Liberal Democrat health policy is now to finance the NHS through hypothecated national insurance contributions and to devolve administrative control to local or regional governments in England.

THE CHOSEN PEOPLE

M. Gould

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Oct. 17th 2002, p.12-13

There are concerns that the patients' choice agenda currently being promoted by government could lead to the adoption of commercial marketing techniques by providers and the under-resourcing of services for vulnerable groups of consumers such as the frail elderly.

FAR TOO NICE

D. Walker

Guardian, Oct. 16th 2002, p.21

Argues that the NHS can be pressured by clamour from patients' groups into wasting resources on expensive treatments of dubious worth. Discusses the role of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines in countering this tendency.

FIT TO BUST

R. Calvert

Health Service Journal, vol. 112, Oct. 10th 2002, p. 24-25

The drugs bill is rising above the rate of general and NHS inflation. Medicines expenditure currently accounts for 15% of overall NHS spending. The advent of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and national service frameworks is likely to increase costs. In order to bear down on costs, prescribers should have easy access to the best advice. Primary Care Trusts and hospitals should establish joint formularies, make use of independent advisers and reduce their contact with drug company representatives.

THE HIDDEN PFI AGENDA

F. Lawrence

Guardian, Oct. 16th 2002, p.21

Restates the principles of private financing of health service projects. PFI means going to the private sector to take out loans to finance capital investments at interest rates higher than normal for government borrowing. The private sector then has to be repaid over 20 to 30 years out of current income. Argues that, in order to raise the money needed to pay off the investors, the NHS will be forced to introduce more patient charges, sell off assets, or treat more private patients.

HOSPITAL BUILDERS STRETCHED BY EXTENT OF PFI

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Oct. 21st 2002, p. 4

The hospital and health centre building programme under the private finance initiative is so large it is reaching the limit of the building contractors' capacity to cope, according to a report by Ernst & Young.

MILBURN FACES DEFEAT ON HOSPITAL FUNDING

P. Webster and J. Sherman

Times, Oct. 3rd 2002, p.12

Reports that the Health Secretary's plans to allow the proposed new foundation hospitals to borrow money on the open market face defeat. Instead, Downing Street is proposing the establishment of a special fund from which hospitals could bid competitively for cash.

(See also Financial Times, Oct. 3rd 2002, p.1 & 3)

NHS PLANS FLAT RATE SYSTEM TO PAY FOR TREATMENTS

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Oct. 18th 2002, p.6

The NHS is to move to a US-style flat rate payment for treatments in an attempt to drive inefficiency out of the system. The more, which in time will apply to operations and treatments bought from the private sector, is being phased in over five years.

NURSES FORCE SHOWDOWN WITH 15% PAY CLAIM

N. Hawkes, L. Paterson and C. Charter

The Times, Oct. 9th 2002, p. 1

Nurses yesterday demanded pay rises of up to 15% funded from the Government's multibillion commitment to the public concerns. They called for a "substantial" increase to give nurses the same starting pay as teachers and police officers.

PFI HOSPITAL'S £97M EQUAL PAY BILL COULD COST NHS BILLIONS

F. Lawrence

The Guardian, October 1st 2002, p. 3

Nurses and ancillary staff at a PFI hospital are set to with a legal battle over equal pay that will cost the hospital £92m in back pay - with potentially major implications for the rest of the health service. Cumberland Infirmary has routinely discriminated against women, paying them less than men doing work of equal value.

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