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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2004): National Health Service - Funding

71 NHS TRUSTS IN THE RED

J. Carvel

The Guardian, April 28th 2004, p. 6

Parliament's spending watchdog warned today that 71 NHS trusts in England went into the red last year, chalking up deficits of more than £200m in breach of an obligation to break even. Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said he was concerned that the large deficits incurred by some NHS bodies might put at risk the financial stability of the health service.

(See also Financial Times, April 28th 2004, p.5)

BALANCING ACT

S. Ward

Public Finance, Mar. 26-Apr. 1st 2004, p.26-27

The article reports on an interview with Anna Walker, Chief Executive of the new Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection (CHAI). The Commission will regulate the NHS and the private healthcare sector. Its job will be to identify systemic failure and put organisations back on the right track. It will put organisations in touch with each other so that they can share solutions to problems.

FINANCE SPECIAL REPORT

Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, Apr. 22nd 2004, p.37-44

Programme budgeting is being introduced in the NHS in an attempt to track expenditure by mapping primary care trust and strategic health authority controlled spending across 23 programmes of care. It maps expenditure by medical condition, e.g. cancer, instead to totalling it by categories, such as salaries, drugs and equipment. It will enable commissioners to link health outcomes with investment levels, and to make comparisons by area. The special report looks at the experience of a primary care trust which is piloting programme budgeting and at the impact of a payment-by-results system in the USA.

FOOLS GOLD

J. Hacking

Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, Apr. 1st 2004, p.32-33

Government funding for medical research is currently focused on the "golden triangle" of Oxford, Cambridge and London. The development of new regional centres of research excellence would help to reduce the disparities.

THE HEART OF THE MATTER

D. Lipsey

Public Finance, Apr. 9th-15th 2004, p.24-25

Proposals to tie hospital funding to surgeons' mortality rates have been mooted. This could lead to surgeons becoming risk-averse and declining to operate on patients in a poor condition.

MINISTERS AXE FRONTRUNNER IN PRIVATISED FAST-TRACK SURGERY

J. Carvel

The Guardian, April 16th 2004, p.3

Government plans to use private healthcare firms to treat patients from the NHS waiting list were in disarray last night after ministers axed the preferred bidder for a chain of fast-track surgery centres. The Department of Health said it "deselected" Anglo-Canadian, a consortium based in Calgary, Alberta, because it could not offer value for money on a proposed contract to carry but 30,00 operations a year at three London hospitals.

THE NEXT STEP TO NHS REFORM: THE NHS FOUNDATION

M. Tremblay

British Journal of Health Care Management, Vol. 10, 2004, p.118-120

The article proposes that all current modernisation funds be placed within a Charitable Foundation, which would take responsibility for funding innovation within the health sector, in the name of the people.

NHS TO GAIN £400M FROM SALE OF SITES FOR LOW-COST HOUSING DEVELOPMENTS

A. Grice

The Independent, April 12th 2004, p.6

More than 100 surplus National Health Service sites will be used to build about 15,000 new homes under a groundbreaking agreement, the Government said yesterday. The NHS will gain £400m from the transfer of the land to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, headed by John Prescott, while NHS workers stand to benefit because 5,000 of the properties will be low cost homes for key staff, such as nurses, police and teachers.

(See Also The Guardian, April 12th 2004, p.7)

PAY AND DISMAY

N. Plumridge

Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, Apr. 15th 2004, p.31

The new consultants' contract, the new GP contract and the Agenda for Change Initiative are all exerting upward pressure on NHS pay costs. There will be no extra government funding to cover the bill.

SERVICE IS PUT ON NOTICE OVER POOR-QUALITY DATA

H. Mooney

Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, Apr 8th 2004, p.12-13

The Audit Commission has found that, although the NHS spends huge amounts of time and money collecting, sharing and using data, its quality is abysmal. However, accurate and meaningful data is crucial to the new funding system of payment by results, and the Commission for Healthcare Audit and Inspection is promising an inspection regime based on "intelligent information".

UNDERSTAND ACTIVITY AND ALL ELSE WILL FOLLOW

S. Brown

Primary Care Report, Vol. 6, No. 5, March 25th 2004, p.12

Under payment by results, any reduction in hospital activity commissioned by primary care trusts will lead to a full cost price reduction. Money saved can be channelled into community services. Patient choice will present PCTs with the challenge of negotiating flexible agreements with hospitals where there are regular but variable levels of demand. They may also need to commission collaboratively on a risk-sharing basis where there are low or unpredictable levels of activity.

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