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Welfare Reform on the Web (June 2005): National Health Service - Funding

Audit office praises £1bn refurbishment of GPs’ premises

N. Timmins

Financial Times, May 23rd 2005, p.2

A £1bn programme to refurbish and replace hundreds of family doctors' premises through a unique public-private partnership appears to be working well, the National Audit Office has concluded. The verdict is important because the programme - known as Lift - has much in common with the even more ambitious £25bn programme called Building Schools for the Future, which aims to replace or refurbish all schools in England. Lift, which stands for Local Improvement Finance Trust, provides a negotiating framework with standardised documents and specialist advice from Partnerships UK (PUK), the part-public, part-private adviser and investor in PFI, within which the local deals can be done.

Foundation chairs could see their pay soar to £60,000

H. Mooney

Health Service Journal, vol.115, May 26th 2005, p.5

The Foundation Trust Network has recommended that foundation chairs should be paid up to £60,000 a year, much more than the maximum of £22,000 allowed for other trust chairs. It has also suggested that non-executive directors should be paid up to £14,000 a year, a boost of £10,000 a year from current remuneration levels.

The government does not know how much to spend on the NHS

J. Appleby and S. Stevens

Health Service Journal, vol.115, May 19th 2005, p.18-19

Appleby argues that, beyond a modest level of spending on health care, every extra pound spent produces smaller and smaller improvements in health. If the government continues to dramatically increase spending on the NHS beyond 2008, it is merely trying to keep up with the EU equivalent of the Joneses. Stevens, however, points out that after years of under-investment, the NHS needs sustained high funding levels to improve its infrastructure.

Minster puts a price on the right to life

S. Lister

The Times, May 19th 2005, p.1

The National Health Service should not have to give life-prolonging treatment to every patient who demands it because it would mean a crippling waste of resources, the Government said yesterday. A lawyer for Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, said that a ruling granting a patient the right to request life-prolonging had care serious implications for the NHS.

NHS cash to pay private GP services £1bn

S. Lister

The Times, May 31st 2005, p.4

Private companies have been secretly offered more than £1billion of NHS money to take over the running of GP services as part of a government drive to encourage the independent sector into primary health care. Senior Whitehall officials had a closed meeting this month where they outlined plans to ring-fence 10 per cent of health trusts' primary care budgets for contracts with private companies. The plans have been criticised as further evidence of the Government's desire to "privatise the NHS by stealth".

Patients could get their own budgets, no.10 says

M. L. Harding

Health Service Journal, vol.115, May 19th 2005, p.5

The government is considering giving people with chronic conditions personal budgets which they could use to purchase a package of care from the NHS or an independent provider. Patients could buy care directly, or GPs could commission "blocks of care" on their behalf.

Payment by results

M. Britnell

Health Service Journal, vol.115, May 12th 2005, p.19

Argues that elective surgery, diagnostic procedures and many outpatients' appointments involve one-off decisions, are suitable subjects for choice and lend themselves to a fee-for-service approach. However, emergency and tertiary services need to be encouraged to work in collaboration not competition, and are therefore not good subjects for payment-by-results.

Points mean prizes for GPs, but what’s in it for patients?

D. Carlisle

Health Service Journal, vol.115, May 26th 2005, p.16-17

The Quality and Outcomes Framework (QOF) was introduced in April 2005 as a way of rewarding GPs for improving their services. GPs have responded to these financial incentives and improved their services so much (at least on paper) that primary care trusts are having difficulty finding the money to pay the rewards.

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