The Guardian, June 29th 2004, p. 6
Tony Blair's new five-year plan for the NHS has unleashed market forces that he will not be able to control, the leader of Britain's 120,000 doctors has warned. James Johnson, chairman of the British Medical Association, said the government's proposals for giving patients a choice over where to get treatment gave a green light to the private healthcare industry to seize a huge slice of NHS business worth £100bn by 2008. Speaking at the BMA's annual conference, he said "We have reached a defining moment in the history of the NHS - with the two major parties both saying that healthcare no longer needs to be provided by the state just because it is paid for by the state". Mr Johnson advised doctors that it was futile to resist the political pressure for more patient choice.
(See also The Times, June 29th 2004, p. 11; The Daily Telegraph, June 29th 2004, p. 8)
Health Service Journal, Vol. 114, June 10th 2004, p.31
The article points out that hospitals burdened with expensive, long-term commitments through Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deals will be at a disadvantage in the new market-led NHS. The tariff they will be able to charge commissioners is based on average costs, and will not take into account the cost of earlier PFI deals.
The Times, June 1st 2004, p. 3
The article contains an interview with Sir Nigel Crisp, chief executive of the National Health Service, who believes that big changes in the way the NHS operates mean it is no longer perceived as a traditional Whitehall fiefdom.
The Guardian, June 22nd 2004, p. 9
According to NHS chief executives, the government's private finance initiative has let to huge mistakes in the £6bn hospital building programme in England. Contracts signed with big private consortia had led to poorly designed buildings with the wrong number of beds and insufficient flexibility to cope with changing health needs. The report by the employer's organisation, the NHS Confederation, said: "The private finance initiative must be reformed if we are to realise its full benefits for patients."
(See also Financial Times, June 22nd 2004, p. 5)
Audit Commission Publications, 2004
Payment by results involves a complete change in NHS funding. It is one of the most significant challenges facing the service which will require higher standards of financial management in both PCTs and acute trusts. The system offers major opportunities and incentives from which all can benefit. However, getting it wrong will mean financial and service difficulties. This handbook outlines the most important risks and the key questions board members should ask about their organisation's preparedness and capacity to successfully implement the new arrangements.
Financial Times, June 10th 2004, p.3
Doctors have accused the government of aiming to privatise the National Health Service, while warning that the introduction of market incentives and overseas providers would lead to its demise. The charges were levelled at the British Medical Association's annual conference of senior hospital doctors, where NHS consultants attacked the new payment by result system and the introduction of privately owned centres to treat NHS patients.
Public Finance, May 28th-June 3rd 2004, p.15
The Health Secretary plans to save the NHS £500m by 2007/08 by cutting half the health arm's-length bodies, whose work he described as "unnecessary regulatory and policy activities". However, health experts believe that costs will be transferred rather than reduced and claim that the plans merely serve to further Labour's political agenda.