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Welfare Reform on the Web (August 2003): National Health Service - Funding

£749m NHS BILL FOR AGENCY STAFF

N. Martin

The Daily Telegraph, July 14th 2003, p.7

Spending on agency doctors and nurses to plug acute staff shortages in the NHS has more than doubled since Labour came to power. The Government's own figures show that a 147 per cent rise in the cost of temporary staff in England, from £303m in 1997 to £749 last year.

CHANGES TO HOSPITAL TRUSTS 'WILL SQUANDER MILLIONS'

M. White

The Guardian, July 9th 2003, p.11

The government's narrow Commons victory over foundation trusts could see the NHS

spending millions of pounds - and many working hours - every year simply to run the board elections that are a cornerstone of the system. Former Health Secretary Frank Dobson warned that budgets will be spent on administering elections rather than patients.

DIFFERENCE IN THE DETAILS

R. Robinson

Health Service Journal, vol.113, July 3rd 2003, p.18-19

Article compares the NHS internal market introduced by the Conservatives from 1991 to 1997 with the version proposed by New Labour in 2003. Argues that GP fundholding under the Conservatives led to shorter waiting times for patients and reduced unnecessary hospital referrals. Suggests that it should be reintroduced by Labour. Hospital trusts in the 1990s enjoyed many of the freedoms now proposed for foundation hospitals. Consequent variations in performance led to press and auditor criticism followed by renewed political interference. An independent regulator is to be established to oversee foundation hospitals, but this may not be enough to prevent political intervention if problems arise. Finally warns that Labour needs to do more to enlist clinician support for its reforms.

FAILURE TO STREAMLINE LEAVES NHS FINANCES BEHIND THE TIMES

S. Brown

Primary Care Report, vol. 5, June 25th 2003, p.10, 12

For the past three and a half years the NHS has been investigating the feasibility of its constituent organisations sharing services. Shared service centres could carry out routine activities in finance, human resources, procurement and estates for a number of bodies. At the same time it was announced that a new national finance and e-commerce system would be procured. The shared services centre concept has now been abandoned amidst fears that their compulsory use would compromise the freedoms promised to foundation trusts. The national finance system has also been abandoned on grounds of cost.

THE HARD CELL

S. Grant

Health Service Journal, vol.113, July 17th 2003, p.14-15

In the wake of newspaper reports of money intended for cancer services being diverted to other uses, it is claimed that spending is now back on track. However, in return for increased funding, services will face widespread scrutiny to see where they could be run more effectively at little or no extra cost.

INNOVATION IN THE NHS: THE ACQUISITION OF THE HEART HOSPITAL

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2003 (House of Commons papers, session 2002/03; HC299)

Reports on the management of the acquisition of the privately-owned Heart Hospital by University College London NHS Hospitals Trust and on maximising its benefits.

NHS CASH FAILS TO STEM RISE IN PRIVATE HEALTH COVER

N. Timmins

Financial Times, July 28th 2003, p.4

The number of people covered by private medical insurance care rose marginally last year, according to the analysts Laing and Bussion. The increase came despite the huge sums that the government is injecting into the National Health Service.

NHS DEAL GETS NERVY WELCOME

Anon.

Labour Research, vol.92, July 2003, p.14-16

The new NHS pay system, Agenda for Change, seeks to introduce new pay bands and harmonised terms and conditions for staff including administrative and clerical officers, ancillary workers and senior managers. Most health workers have voted to accept the new system, but there are now fears that the proposed foundation hospitals will develop their own pay and conditions for staff, and that the NHS may move to regional pay bargaining.

PAY ON DISPLAY

S. Mathieson

Health Service Journal, vol. 113, July 17th 2003, p.28-30

The NHS electronic staff records project is running a year late. Pilots are underway, but it is unclear when every NHS payroll will be processed by the new system. Progress has been slowed by the wide range of organisational structures and systems in the NHS.

POOR PAY HGH PRICE FOR LACK OF MONEY

J. Carvel

Guardian Society, July 9th 2003, p.5

The poor are being punished by creeping erosion of free treatment under the NHS, the National Consumer Council (NCC) has warned after investigating increases in what people have to pay for prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment. As many as 750,000 fail to get all or part of their prescription dispensed because they cannot afford the charge, and the list of medicines exempt from the charge has not been updated since 1968. The charge is currently £6.30 per item in England and Scotland and £6 in Wales.

SARS GPs TOLD TO BUY MASKS FROM B&Q

J. Carvel

The Guardian, July 2nd 2003, p.2

Doctors' leaders admitted that the NHS was so unprepared for the recent outbreak of the SARS infection that it gave GPs urgent advice to buy protective masks and gloves from the nearest branch of B&Q.

SUSPENDED DOCTORS COST NHS MILLIONS

N. Timmins

Financial Times, July 4th 2003, p.5

The NHS has been spending millions of pounds a year on doctors who have been suspended. At any one time in the past two years more than 30 doctors have been suspended for six months or more.

WILL OLD LOYALTIES GO TO THE DOGS AS MARKET FORCES BEGIN TO BITE?

N. Bostock

Primary Care Report, vol. 5, June 25th 2003, p.24-25

Primary care trusts will hold funds and use them to commission services from a chosen provider which could be a private sector organisation, a local hospital or one in Timbuktu. By 2005 they will also have to offer patients a choice of where they go for treatment, making relationships with more than one acute provider essential.

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