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Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2007): National Health Service - primary and community care

At your service

K. McIntosh

Health Service Journal, vol. 117, June 14th 2007, p. 22-25

The Department of Health and primary care trusts (PCTs) are exploring foundation status for community services, but there is no clear model. Community foundations could take over PCTs’ provider arm, leaving them to focus fully on commissioning. However, there are concerns about bureaucracy and that another type of foundation would 'compartmentalise' the NHS.

Healthy Communities

N. Lovelace (editor)

Health Service Journal, vol.117, June 28th 2007, Supplement, 15p

The Healthy Communities programme is a two-year initiative launched in 2006 and aimed at helping local government get a better grip on its growing role in health. It is funded by the Department of Health, but managed by the Improvement & Development Agency (IDeA). It seeks to tackle local health inequalities, provide leadership to promote well-being, foster joined-up working across local government and promote partnerships between local authorities and health organisations. It also aims to improve the impact of local strategic partnerships and local area agreements on the health and well-being of their communities. This supplement features an interview with IDeA’s national adviser on Healthy Communities, an exploration of the challenges of partnership working, allocation of finances in the new integrated environment, and the IDeA's peer review pilot.

Prescribing costs in primary care

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07: HC 454)

In 2006 the NHS spent more than £8 billion on medicines in primary care and more than 750 million prescriptions were dispensed. Over the last decade the primary care drugs bill has increased by 60 per cent in real terms. The report looks at how the Department of Health and NHS organisations can help make future growth in prescribing more affordable without affecting clinical outcomes. It also looks at the extent of medicines being wasted through, for example, GPs over-prescribing or medicines being dispensed to patients but not being used. The report also found that if all PCTs prescribed as efficiently as the top ten per cent of PCTs, then more than £300 million could be saved. The report found that it was difficult for GPs to assimilate all the information they received on prescribing. Both official NHS prescribing advisers and the pharmaceutical industry influence GPs’ prescribing decisions. The report examined how value for money in prescribing could be improved, and makes recommendations to the Department of Health and to PCTs on supporting GPs to improve prescribing.

Unhealthy state of affairs

S. Cirell and J. Bennett

Public Finance, June 15th-21st 2007, p. 19

Disputes between primary care trusts and local authorities over eligibility for NHS funded health and personal care are increasing as financial constraints become more severe. This article calls for the introduction of a clear dispute resolution procedure.

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