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Welfare Reform on the Web (January 2006): National Health Service - reform - general

Charity calls for alcohol nurses

R. Murray-West
Daily Telegraph, November 25th 2005, p.11

Hospitals with alcohol workers, where brief interventions are followed up by phone calls, reduce re-admission rates for drink-related problems according to a charity urging the employment of alcohol nurses in every hospital.

Chief Executive’s report to the NHS: December 2005

London: Department of Health, 2005

Report describes NHS activity over the past year and since the publication of the NHS Plan.  The report says that:

  • Hospital waiting lists are lower than ever, over half a million down from their peak, and waiting times should be reduced to a maximum six months by the end of 2005/06.
  • Early deaths from cancer, heart disease and suicide continue to fall
  • Patients have more choice and involvement in their own care and will have more choice about which hospital they are referred to in January 2006.

Commissioning children’s and young people’s palliative care services

Department for Education and Skills [and] Department of Health
London:  DH Publications, 2005

This guide aims to support healthcare organisations in their work with local authorities and other partners to develop children’s palliative care services.  It will help commissioners of health services to apply the children’s national service framework in their strategic development and delivery of children’s palliative care.

Damning report on partial smoking ban could fuel backbench revolt

C. Newman
Financial Times, December 20th 2005, p.2

The Health Select Committee has attacked the government’s proposals for a partial ban on smoking in public places.   They argue that a complete ban is the only way to protect workers’ health, and a partial ban is out-of-step with the rest of the world.

Delay over privacy in NHS patient records

N. Timmins
Financial Times, November 25th 2005, p.4

The first patients to use NHS electronic patient records are unlikely to have access to the “sealed envelope” into which they can put parts of their medical history they want disclosed only in an emergency.  Technical difficulties are besetting system design.

Hospital “lottery” blamed for 5000 deaths

N. Hawkes
Times, December 10th 2005, p.1&4

Death rates in Britain’s poorest hospitals are double what they are in the best according to research carried out by healthcare specialists Dr Foster.  The greatest improvements need to come in the West Midlands, the North West, London and the South East. There is a fourfold variation in heart bypass mortality between the best and worst hospitals and about 20 per cent still lack stroke units, which have been proved to save lives and reduce disability.  In some areas, waits for MRI scans can be as long as two years, while in others it is only ten days. Similarly, waits for angiograms, to investigate coronary artery disease, are more than six months in the East of England, but less than three months in the North East.  The NHS may be improving, but variations in performance across hospitals remain huge.

Hospitals fail to control killer bug

J. Meikle
Guardian, December 21st 2005, p.1

Hospitals are failing to follow guidance on controlling the virulent bug Clostridium difficile, a bacterium responsible for 934 deaths among 44,500 patients infected by it last year.  The Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Nursing Officer have warned hospitals to review their policies and procedures.

Hospitals may ban treatment for smokers and drinkers

N. Hawkes
Times, December 9th 2005, p.1 & 2

According to new NICE guidance, NHS treatment may be withheld if doctors think that a patient’s lifestyle will render it ineffective or not cost-effective.  However, doctors should not discriminate on the grounds that a disease is self-inflicted or because of age alone.

Leak reveals plan to cut 6,000 NHS staff in trust mergers

J. Carvel
Guardian, November 24th 2005, p.6

A reorganisation announced in July 2005, under which numbers of Primary Care Trusts will reduce from 300 to 100 and Strategic Health Authorities from 28 to 11 will result in job cuts costing £320m in severance pay according to a leak.

Old school tie network still at work in hospitals

S. Lister
Times, November 21st 2005, p.22

Three quarters of consultants were educated privately while two thirds of GPs had a state education according to a study. Article looks at paternalism and cliques in medical recruitment.

Policy futures for UK health

Z. Morris and others (editors)
Oxford: Radcliffe, 2005

The book offers help to policy makers and stakeholders by summarising the context within which health policy is developed, identifying the key current issues and pointing out the various factors that feed into decision making. It considers trends in the wider societal environment including ethical and legal contexts, and also offers recommendations and general conclusions for the future.

Private hospitals face NHS-style inspections

N. Timmins
Financial Times, November 28th 2005, p.2

Article reports that the Healthcare Commission will announce an inspection and regulation regime for private hospitals roughly equivalent to that in the NHS.  The NHS is expected to be the largest funding source for the independent sector by 2010.

UK agencies still hiring poorest nations’ nurses

S. Boseley
Guardian December 20th 2005, p. 4

Government attempts to restrict recruitment of nurses from poor countries are failing. Article looks at the effects on poor countries and lists numbers of recruits by banned country.

Variations in the experiences of patients in England:  analysis of the Healthcare Commission’s 2003/2004 national surveys of patients

Healthcare Commission
London: 2005

Report is based on detailed analysis of five of the Commission’s recent surveys of patients.  These cover adults in hospital, young patients, ambulance users, community mental health service users and patients of primary care trusts.  Results show that people in the North East of England are most positive about the NHS while people in London are the least positive.  Younger people are less satisfied than older people, possibly due to higher expectations about the quality of care.  The biggest factor explaining differences in experiences across all five surveys is self-reported health status.  People with complex health needs have greater exposure to the NHS and are more likely to be negative about it.

We can’t help patients pick hospitals say 75 percent of GPs

N. Flemming
Daily Telegraph, December 5th 2005, p.8

While ministers expect great improvements to result from the introduction of the electronic hospital appointments booking system, patient choice is criticised as illusory, with GPs feeling unqualified to help and worrying that patients will rely on them to make the choices, encroaching on consulting time.

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