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

County's healthcare to be outsourced

N.Timmins

Financial Times, October 13th 2005, p.2

The purchasing of healthcare for the county of Oxfordshire is to be put out to tender in a groundbreaking move that could significantly extend the role of the private sector in running the National Health Service. If the private sector wins the contract it would mean private sector involvement in the running of the NHS at almost every level, for the first time, from commissioning to providing services.

The economics of sexual health

C. Davey

Community Practitioner, vol.78, 2005, p.349-350

Article summarises research showing that by changing contraceptive prescribing patterns and raising the profile of different methods of contraception, the number of unintended pregnancies would fall and costs incurred by abortion and maternity services would fall by 33m a year. By cutting abortion waiting times by 10 days, more women would be eligible for an early medical abortion or a surgical abortion under local anaesthetic. Both of these are more cost effective than other options, making a further saving of up to 30m a year.

High anxiety

M. Hellowell

Private Finance, Sept. 16th-22nd 2005, p.19

The building large hospitals under the Private Finance Initiative is likely to come to an end due to the introduction of competition between hospitals under payment by results and patient choice. Hospitals with uncertain financial futures in the new economy are unlikely to commit themselves to large new buildings for which they may be unable to pay.

Manic marketisation is driving the NHS into cut-throat chaos

P. Toynbee

The Guardian, October 7th 2005, p.31

The author argues that New Labour, by spreading payment by results to everything, emergency and chronic cases included, is rushing to leave behind a dismantled NHS that is only a purchaser, not a provider.

More work for NICE

S. Stevens

Health Service Journal, vol.115, Oct.20th 2005, p.17

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has established a rigorous process for cutting through the claims and counter-claims for drugs made by the pharmaceutical industry. Author argues that NICE's role should be expanded to regulating prices for patented drugs by specifying the hurdle price that any given drug would need to fall below if it was to offer benefits at an acceptable cost per quality adjusted life year.

NHS doctors back private hospitals plan

J. Carvel

The Guardian, October 3rd 2005, p.3

A healthcare entrepreneur has raised more than 100m from the City to kickstart plans to build a chain of private hospitals across England in partnership with hundreds of frustrated NHS consultants. The venture, probably the biggest private investment in hospitals since the NHS was founded in 1948, has been triggered by the government's plans for patient choice. Centres of Clinical Excellence, the group involved, has been set up as a venture in which doctors, nurses and other professionals will share in the management - and the profits. The company sees it as the medical equivalent of the co-ownership model used in retailing by the John Lewis Partnership.

Pay deal means end of two-tier system in the NHS

J. Carvel

The Guardian, October 7th 2005, p. 11

Thousands of hospital porters, cleaners and other contract staff will get a big pay increase as a result of a deal brokered yesterday by Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, to bring an end to the two-tier workforce in the NHS in England. From April the basic minimum wage will go up to 5.88 an hour, matching the terms available to staff directly employed by the NHS. About 35,000 employees of health service contractors are affected.

Private firm wins 25m ambulance service contract

C. Hall

The Daily Telegraph, October 13th 2005, p.10

Tens of thousands of patients who need an ambulance to ferry them to and from hospital will be carried by a private company in a controversial 25 million deal. Surrey Ambulance Service NHS Trust learned yesterday that it had lost the contract for services that it had always provided. The contract has been won by GSL UK Ltd, which provides transport services to other public sector organisations.

A shot in the arm

S. Ward

Public Finance, Oct.7th-13th 2005, p.22-25

In spite of massive increases in public funds being poured into the NHS, trusts are struggling to balance their books. Much of the new money has been spent of staff salary rises and pensions, or on paying off historic debt. Little is left to improve services.

Treasury plans review of long-term increases in health service spending

N.Timmins

Financial Times, October 3rd 2005, p.1

The Treasury is to review long-term increases in National Health spending amid fears they could threaten the government's other funding priorities such as education and tackling child poverty. Officials have confirmed they will "revisit" the 2002 report by Sir Derek Wanless on healthcare spending as part of the "zero-based review" of government expenditure.

Why firmer foundations are needed to steady nerves

H. Mooney

Health Service Journal, vol.115, Oct.13th 2005, p.14-15

Article discusses what must be done to encourage NHS trusts to gain elite foundation status. Government needs to be clearer about what freedoms go with foundation status. It has recently denied foundation trusts the right to bid to run second-wave independent treatment centres, while managers are acutely aware that if they cannot compete with the private sector their trusts may fail as businesses. Foundation trust managers are also nervous about the impact of payment by results, which they claim are not fit for financing emergency care or long-term conditions.

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