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Soaring cost of health red tape

Red tape costs- how the Labour government is increasing the costs for the National Health Service

NHS’s major trauma services- not good enough
Wed, 17 Feb 2010- England has an unacceptably poor service for dealing with major trauma, in spite of 20 years of reports identifying the problem, and a real terms doubling of NHS spending in the past decade, the National Audit Office found.

Call for social care reform as costs escalate
Fri, 12 Feb 2010- Radical reform of social care is needed both to contain costs and improve the quality of a system that is “fundamentally broken” say leading academics.

Hospitals must cut services to stay afloat, watchdog quango warns
Thu, 4 Feb 2010- Hospitals will have to reduce services, sell off buildings and move into smaller premises to cope with financial pressures in the next few years, the head of the foundation trusts’ regulatory body has warned.

NHS paid doctor £375 an hour
Thu, 14 Jan 2010- NHS spending on agency workers has risen sharply in the past financial year in spite of attempts to control such expenditure, according to figures issued by the Conservatives.

Labour ministers to take control of hospital charity cash
Thu, 7 Jan 2010- Hundreds of millions of pounds of charity donations to hospitals are to be “nationalised” under an NHS accounting change, which critics say will make it easier to slash underfunded health budgets.

Government departments waste £4m on website redesigns
Wed, 30 Dec 2009- Labour government departments have spent £4 million of public money revamping their existing websites over the past two and a half years

Breast removal for cancer is postcode lottery, study shows
Tue, 15 Dec 2009- Women with breast cancer are five times more likely to undergo a mastectomy rather than have less invasive surgery in some parts of the country compared with others, research has shown.

Dramatic postcode lottery for cancer survival rates shock charities
Wed, 2 Dec 2009- Department of Health figures have shown a wide variation in cancer survival between different parts of the UK with lung cancer patients in Herefordshire three times more likely to die within a year than those in Kensington and Chelsea.

Health department spent £585m on consultants
Thu, 12 Nov 2009- The Department of Health has spent £585m – the cost of building a district general hospital – on management, legal and financial consultants over the past four years.

Surge in patients going private on NHS
Tue, 3 Nov 2009- More patients are choosing private hospitals for their NHS treatment, latest figures from the Department of Health show, as labour’s much vaunted “choice” agenda finally takes off.

One in eight NHS trusts could face fines and hospital closures due to substandard services
Fri, 23 Oct 2009- One in eight local NHS healthcare trusts could face fines and even be forced to close hospitals from next April if they do not improve standards, the new health regulator has warned.

Conservatives told how to cut NHS red tape to free up £4 billion
Wed, 7 Oct 2009- Reducing NHS red tape could free up £4 billion over four years to pay for frontline health services, Andrew Lansley has told the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Increasing obesity pushes diabetes drug bill to £600m
Fri, 25 Sep 2009- The rising problem of obesity has helped to make diabetes treatments the biggest drug bill in primary care, with almost £600 million of medicines prescribed by doctors last year, according to the NHS Information Centre.

The new CRB check nanny state paranoia won’t stop another Soham
Thu, 17 Sep 2009- “I helped to catch Ian Huntley and I know these new stupid rules would not have prevented his crimes.” Health Direct reproduces the article below by Chris Stevenson who is a retired detective chief superintendent.

WHO says that otherwise healthy people should not be given Tamiflu
Wed, 2 Sep 2009- Healthy people who catch swine flu should not be given antiviral drugs, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said, as most people will recover from symptoms within a week.

NHS staffing crisis as one in 20 health professional posts remains unfilled
Thu, 20 Aug 2009- More than one in 20 posts in the NHS are being left unfilled official figures show as Trusts are forced to spend up to £150,000 to fill each job with agency workers.

Surgical centres protest at ISTC contract delays
Thu, 13 Aug 2009- Private providers of independent surgical centres are to protest to the department of health at the ponderous timetable for re-tendering for five year contracts to treat tens of thousands of NHS patients annually.

Breast cancer screening blamed for false alarms
Fri, 7 Aug 2009- One in three breast cancer cases diagnosed in routine public screening programmes is harmless and would not have caused problems if it had gone undetected, researchers say.

Companies in swine flu fight over staff and profits
Wed, 22 Jul 2009- Most businesses were trying to avoid being swept up in the panic this week. But with the number of cases doubling to 100,000, companies were testing business continuity plans to make sure they could cope with large numbers of sick workers.

Working hours directive will put lives at risk in hospitals
Wed, 8 Jul 2009- The UK’s top surgeon has claimed that patients lives will be put at risk and hospitals forced to close because of new European red tape that will limit the hours doctors can work.

Quango ties NHS trusts with more red tape
Wed, 1 Jul 2009- National Health Service trusts could face financial penalties, sacking of executives or even temporary stoppage of some services if they do not meet standards of care to be imposed from April next year.

Ditch management consultants from the NHS
Thu, Jun 18, 2009- Management consultants should be ditched as the NHS is entering a ‘dark and dangerous’ period, leading doctor warns conference.

Travel, food, chauffeurs – quangos are at it too
Thu, Jun 11, 209- Quangocrats are claiming up to £35,000 a year each in expenses for hotels, lavish meals, sat navs and, in one case, £18.50 for dishwasher tablets.

Public services waste £1.5m on ‘non jobs’
Mon, Jun 1, 2009- Health boards and other quangos have been accused of wasting more than £1m of public money every year on “non jobs”, including a wellbeing unit manager, events planner and buddy project worker.

Private companies increase GP presence as polyclinic numbers grow
Fri, May 22, 2009- The private sector has established a small but significant bridgehead in general practice in England, but any “corporate takeover” of family doctor surgeries remains a long way off.

NHS governance ‘reduced to paper chase’ – Audit Commission
Tue, May 12, 2009- Many NHS trust board members cannot be sure whether or not their hospital is operating within the law, the Audit Commission has found.

Relatives win 10 year battle to prove NHS culture of euthanasia
Mon, Apr 27, 2009- Three patients who died at a hospital in Hampshire in the late 1990s were given inappropriate medication, an inquest jury has ruled.

Acute overspending raises questions over PCT plans
Wed, 22 Apr, 2009- Primary care trusts have overspent against acute contracts by hundreds of millions of pounds, raising questions over the success of efforts to deliver care more cheaply in the community.

NHS invites bids for local health services
Wed, 15 Apr, 2009- Foundation trusts are being invited to bid to take over a mental health service in Bedfordshire as part of the National Health Service’s drive to ensure all health services are supplied by freestanding organisations.

Disabled children wait up to two years for wheelchairs
Thu, 9 Apr, 2009- The NHS was told to stop relying on charities to fill funding gaps after figures revealed many trusts would not pay the full cost of electric wheelchairs for disabled children leaving patients facing a postcode lottery

Cure the NHS with far fewer managers- Sir Gerry Robinson
Thu, 2 Apr, 2009- Recent crises in patient care stem from excessive bureaucracy and poor quality leadership, argues Sir Gerry Robinson.

Lawyers use NHS as £100m cash cow
Fri, 27 Mar, 2009- Lawyers are earning £800 an hour from the National Health Service and taking “indefensible” fees of tens of millions of pounds in legal disputes.

Dept of Health failing to learn from past mistakes
Mon, Mar 9, 2009- The NHS’s IT £12bn programme to create an electronic patient record is a prime example of Whitehall failing to learn from past mistakes, the National Audit Office warns.

NHS chiefs fail to defend Agenda for Change red tape
Fri, Mar 6, 2009- MPs have attacked health chiefs for failing to ensure Agenda for Change delivered promised gains in staff productivity.

20 trusts set to miss foundation trust deadline
Fri, Feb 27, 2009- More than 20 hospital and mental health trusts have been warned they are entering an “end game” because they will not be ready to become foundation trusts before December 2010.

Less than half of all patients aware they have choice
Fri, Feb 06, 2009- Less than half of all patients are still unaware that they have choice about their potential treatment centres.

NHS patients to get cash to buy care
Fri, Jan 23, 2009- Patients with long term medical conditions are to be given cash to buy their care.

More Department of Health paperpushers earning top salaries
Tue, Jan 13, 2009- The number of Department of Health staff earning more than £100,000 a year has risen from eight to 50 since 1997.

Labour ignores its own red tape in NHS health planning
Tue, Jan 6, 2009- Local NHS bodies are not fulfilling their legal duty to consult the public according to a new study by the NHS Support Federation.

NHS trusts waste effort chasing EU working time directive
Tue, Dec 30, 2008- NHS Trusts are wasting millions of pounds and losing thousands of service hours over preparing for the European working time directive.

Healthcare Commission warns NHS has some way to go on patient safety
Tue, Dec 23, 2008- NHS boards are devolving vital decisions on safety and failing to report serious incidents such as radiation overdoses, preliminary Healthcare Commission findings have revealed.

Labour unveils plans for NHS cuts
Mon, Dec 01, 2008- Primary care trusts will be asked to contribute to an extra £5bn of annual public sector efficiency savings by 2010-11, labour’s pre-Budget report says.

Health trusts may face bill for top up refunds after labour’s U turn on cancer drugs charges
Tue, Nov 25, 2008- Primary care trusts could come under pressure to refund tens of thousands of pounds to patients who have paid for top-up treatments.

Medicines shortage fears grow
Mon, Nov 17, 2008- British patients face the prospect of drug shortages as the falling price of medicines makes it more profitable for pharmacists and wholesalers to sell them abroad.

The last nail in the NHS coffin
Mon, Nov 10, 2008- Top up co-payments are the last nail in the coffin for the NHS as it opens the door to private providers.

Treasury could snatch £3bn from NHS budget, academic warns
Thu, Nov 6, 2008- The Treasury could try to claw back more than £3bn out of the NHS to contribute towards the credit crisis bail-out package, a leading health service academic has warned.

Health Dept prescription medicines pricing shake up descends into chaos
Mon, Oct 27, 2008- Plans to introduce a new system for setting the price of prescription medicines have been thrown into chaos by the Department of Health, potentially costing the health service tens of millions of Pounds.

NHS hospitals allowing top up cancer drugs payments
Mon, Oct 20, 2008Health Direct has learned that payments to top up NHS care – supposedly banned – are happening at 30 hospitals across the UK.

NHS trust spends £12,000 treating staff privately
Wed, Oct 15, 2008– An NHS trust has spent more than £12,000 on private treatment for hospital staff because its own waiting times are too long.

Dying patient forced to pay £20,000 for NHS care
Wed, Oct 8, 2008- The grieving family of a woman who died last week tells why health service rules on top-up co payments for cancer drugs must be changed.

Lady Archer backs patients in row over top up drugs payments
Tue, Sep 23, 2008- Lady Archer has backed demands for patients to be allowed to pay for additional medicines without losing their NHS care by releasing a survey showing that more than 80% of patients at the trust she chairs back the change.

Healthcare postcode lottery means patients losing out on cancer treatments
Fri, Sep 12, 2008- The level of healthcare inequality across the country is disclosed in a detailed report which shows some areas are spending twice as much tackling heart disease and cancer as others.

Lynda Bellingham hits out over Alzheimer’s drugs failure
Fri, Sep 05, 2008- The actress Lynda Bellingham has spoken about her anger that dementia drugs came too late to save her mother’s mind and are still not available to all patients.

Drug companies face fresh action after trial failure
Tue, Aug 19, 2008- Efforts to punish a group of drug companies allegedly behind one of the biggest price-fixing schemes to hit the public purse are being stepped up after the collapse of their criminal trial.

Drug appeal procedures chaotic
Fir, Aug 15, 2008- The pleas of cancer sufferers in England for drugs other than those usually funded by the NHS are not dealt with fairly, a patient group claims.

Private hospitals to follow NHS in publishing patient outcomes and death rates
Thu, Aug 7, 2008- Private hospitals will have to publish an annual “quality” report outlining how their patients have fared, David Nicholson, the National Health Service chief executive, has disclosed.

Medical innovation needs cost benefit treatment
Tue, Jul 29, 2008- Will technology break the NHS bank? The question preoccupies health experts across the developed world, who have universally identified medical innovation as one of the main forces propelling costs upwards.

A million patients battle against polyclinics
Thu, Jul 17, 2008- More than one million patients have signed a petition protesting against plans to close hundreds of GP practices to make way for polyclinics.

NHS scandal: dying cancer victim was forced to pay
Mon, Jul 7, 2008- A woman dying of cancer was denied free National Health Service treatment in her final months because she had paid privately for a drug to try to prolong her life.

NHS at 60- NICE roadblock deprives patients as big drugs companies shift trials from UK
Thu, Jul 3, 2008– NHS at 60- leading pharmaceutical groups are cutting back on clinical research in the UK, claiming insufficient commitment by the labour government and the National Health Service to support new drug development.

Hospitals hide funds to rein in NHS surplus
Fri, Jun 20, 2008- Hospitals and primary care trusts have prepaid suppliers many hundreds of millions of pounds and have hidden money in other ways in order to keep the National Health Service surplus for last year down to the forecast £1.8bn.

5,000 cancer beds facing axe in NHS cancer shake-up
Wed, May 28, 2008- The labour government plans to close up to 5,000 beds on cancer wards in a reorganisation of the way patients are treated, according to a report by experts in the disease.

£77m to improve stroke services as UK ‘lags behind major Western nations’
Wed, May 21, 2008- The UK lags behind other developed nations in caring for thousands of patients who have suffered a stroke, and the labour Government is far from meeting its own targets in England, a new critical report says

Labour warned on DCA DIY cancer treatments as cost cutting bites
Wed, May 14, 2008- The labour government was warned that cancer sufferers are at increased risk from websites selling unproven cures that could wreck the remaining months of their life. The controversy centres on a drug called DCA (dichloroacetate), a chemical being promoted and hyped across the world as a cure for cancer.

NHS pay deal may be cut if offer is rejected
Tue, Apr 29, 2008- Health workers may have their pay offer cut if they refuse to accept the three year deal which Gordon Brown and labour ministers are offering.

Dept Of Health is frustrating to work with claim private companies
Mon, Apr 21, 2008- Three more independent sector treatment centres were finally given the go ahead as Ben Bradshaw, health minister, celebrated the private sector’s treatment of the millionth National Health Service patient under the health department’s centrally procured contracts.

Labour government spending on quangos soars
Wed, Apr 16, 2008– Labour ministers have authorised a huge increase in spending on quangos despite having promised to reduce their cost.

Public mistrusts official data- particularly waiting times lists
Mon, Mar 31, 2008- More than half of Britons think labour politicians interfere with official data, according to a survey by the government’s own statisticians.

Whitehall cannot afford to pay for budget’s incapacity benefit tests
Fri, Mar 28, 2008- Labour ministers insisted that they had enough money to implement new budget promises for tests on all incapacity benefit claimants after Conservative claims of a “con”. Disability charities also voiced concerns about people being “thrown off” benefits under the scheme.

£1.8bn surplus forecast for NHS after cutbacks in patient care
Mon, Mar 17, 2008- The National Health Service in England is heading for a surplus of £1.8 billion this year, provoking anger among patient bodies over cutbacks to the funding of care.

Younger dentists abandoning the NHS
Wed, Mar 12, 2008- More and more young dentists are abandoning the NHS in favour of private practice, official figures show with fears that more and more dentists may be lost to the private sector.

Postcode lottery grows as Welsh NHS scraps car park tax on the sick
Wed, Mar 05, 2008- Patients, staff and visitors will be able to park for free at almost every NHS hospital in Wales by the end of 2011. The Welsh Assembly will also confirm that free parking will be available to patients from April 1.

Contract was a windfall for GPs but ‘not a good deal for patients’
Fri, Feb 29 2008- The controversial contract to improve GPs pay and efficiency cost £1.76 billion more than the labour goverment expected and NHS productivity has actually fallen, a damning report by auditors concludes. The findings, by the National Audit Office, show that GPs who run their own practices received huge pay rises while giving up responsibility for the 24-hour care of their patients.

Dentists warn of future of NHS services at risk
Tue, Feb 19, 2008- Contract changes that have seen more than 1,000 dentists leave the health service threaten to bring about the end of NHS dentistry, MPs are warned. The introduction of financial penalties for missing targets has already seen twice as many dentists leave the NHS as the labour Government estimated.

NHS pays out £160m for social care patients
Wed, Feb 13, 2008– The National Health Service has paid out £180m in compensation to people with continuing care needs whom it moved into the means tested social care system.

Private patients’ unpaid bills leave NHS trusts chasing millions
Tue, Feb 12, 2008– NHS trusts and foundation trusts are owed millions in outstanding fees from private patients, Health Direct has learned.

NHS gives American chief ‘eye-watering deal’
Tue, Feb 05, 2008– The Department of Health is paying more than £100,000 a year towards housing the American who heads its commercial directorate – on top of a salary of at least £185,000, a civil service pension, two business class flights a year to the US, a relocation package of up to £35,000 and eligibility for a bonus.

NHS is paying for immigrant baby boom
Wed Jan 30, 2008- The NHS is spending £350m a year to provide maternity services for foreign-born mothers, £200m more than a decade ago, the BBC and Health Direct has found.

Cancer patients fight to stop NHS withholding care
Wed Jan 23 2008- Cancer patients have launched a legal action to prevent the NHS from withdrawing care if they seek to improve their chances of recovery by paying privately for an additional drug.

NHS pay system risks heart attacks in the south
Tues Jan 22 2008- Centralised pay settlements in the NHS are killing heart attack patients because hospitals cannot recruit sufficient skilled staff, according to leading economists.

Social care watchdogs merger will risk lives claims Healthcare Commission
Mon Jan 14 2008- Gordon Stalinist Brown’s plan to merge three health and social care regulators was dealt a blow after the chairman of the healthcare inspectorate described the reorganisation as a costly distraction that will put lives at risk.

Hospitals fight NHS ban on patients using private drugs
Fri Jan 04 2008- Hospital chiefs are demanding an urgent review of the labour government’s policy of withdrawing National Health Service care from patients who pay privately for additional cancer medicines.

NHS threat to halt care for cancer patient if she pays for her own drugs
Wed 19 Dec 2007- A woman will be denied free National Health Service treatment for breast cancer if she seeks to improve her chances by paying privately for an additional cancer drug.

Quango advisers hit out on NHS wasted cash
Tue 11 Dec 2007- The advice of a high powered board of business people set up to counsel the labour government on working with the private sector was systematically ignored by ministers and civil servants, according to a resignation letter seen by the Financial Times.

Last minute private operations cost NHS more when broken targets loom
Tue 27 Nov 2007- NHS hospitals and primary care trusts are paying private hospitals excessive prices because they treat patients at the last minute, the industry says. This is despite the availability of more than 120 independent hospitals and surgical centres that will treat patients at NHS prices or just above.

NHS underspends by record £1.8bn
Mon 26 Nov 2007- The NHS is heading for a record £1.8bn underspend this financial year, Health Direct can reveal.

NHS deficits leading to quality divide for patients as red tape costs soar
Wed 14 Nov 2007- A deepening divide is emerging between NHS organisations that are managing their finances well and the nearly one third that remain in poor financial health, the Audit Commission has warned.

Case studies in foreign health services
Thu 8 Nov 2007- Following Health Direct’s post last month Record numbers go abroad for health treatments, we profile a number of case studies where UK patients have given up on the NHS and experienced foreign health services.

Nanny state burns £500m on failed anti smoking campaigns
Mon 22 Oct 2007- The National Health Service has spent almost £500m on services to stop people smoking but with no discernible impact on either the proportion of the adult population that smokes or the numbers smoking

NHS trusts are failing to handle complaints
Wed 10 Oct 2007- Almost a third of complaints about NHS standards are not being handled properly, according to the official health watchdog. The Healthcare Commission claims in a report released today that many hospital managers, doctors and nurses do not listen to complaints or learn from their mistakes.

Labour in crisis as staff shortage blamed for £665m payout in birth errors
Tue 9 Oct 2007- Childbirth is claimed to be safer than ever. Yet the price paid by the NHS for deliveries going catastrophically wrong has risen 59 per cent to £259m – enough to fund the consultants and midwives needed to save thousands of babies and mothers from harm.

New £100m Innovation health quango setup
Fri 5 Oct 2007- A £100m innovation quango is to be created, with half the money, to be spent over five years, coming from the Wellcome Trust. It marks the first adoption of a recommendation from junior health minister Lord Darzi’s review of the NHS.

NHS is facing £4.5bn compensation bill over babies damaged at birth by hospital blunders
Mon 24 Sep 2007- The NHS is facing £4.5bn in compensation claims over alleged blunders by midwives and doctors that have left babies suffering severe brain damage, The Observer and Health Direct reveals.

Labour lead halved as voters feel pinch
Tue 18 Sep 2007- Gordon Stalinist Brown’s opinion poll lead has halved in the space of a month, making an early election much less likely, according to the latest Sunday Times-YouGov poll of more than 1,800 people.

Gordon Stalinist Brown’s careless health spending will end up wounding the PM
Wed 12 Sept 2007- The amount of taxpayers’ money spent on the National Health Service has more than doubled in the last five years. The annual cost of our system of universal public healthcare is now approaching £100bn – more than £1,500 a year for every man, woman and child. But is our money being spent wisely?

NHS Postcode lottery to be challenged in the courts
Thu 6 Sept 2007- The European Commission has been asked to investigate whether a local health authority can refuse to pay for drugs when funding is available elsewhere. Tory MEP Chris Heaton-Harris claims the so called NHS postcode lottery breaks European anti-discrimination laws.

Labour’s latest NHS red tape shake up costs another 140 million Pounds
Fri 24 Aug 07- The reorganisation of strategic health authorities (SHAs) in England has seen the NHS pay out more than £80m in redundancy costs, Health Direct and the BBC has learned. More than 700 staff lost their jobs in last year’s shake-up, which saw the number of SHAs reduced from 28 to 10. The cost of the average redundancy package for senior managers was more than £350,000.

Psychiatric wards at crisis point, says doctor
Fri 17 Aug 07- The crisis facing Britain’s mental health wards is laid bare. Speaking exclusively, a senior consultant psychiatrist, who cannot be named, painted a picture of a service at breaking point. The wards are overcrowded, staff are overstretched and seriously ill psychotic patients are often forced to sleep on a sofa because beds have been cut to balance the books elsewhere in the NHS.

NHS managers blocked 75pc of GP referrals
Mon 6 Aug 07- Three quarters of GPs who referred patients to hospital have had their decisions blocked, a poll for The Sunday Telegraph reveals. Family doctors say that new “referral management” systems, set up to allow primary care trusts (PCTs) to overrule decisions taken in the surgery, are being used to delay and cancel hospital care, and to divert patients referred to a hospital consultant to cheaper clinics in the community.

NHS pay deal cost more and brought less than planned
Thu 2 Aug 07- The introduction of the most ambitious pay reform in the National Health Service’s history cost far more than expected and failed to deliver the intended increases in productivity, a study by the King’s Fund health think-tank has found.

NHS manager’s payout is nearly £1m
Fri 20 Jul 07- An NHS manager has been given a redundancy package worth almost £1 million in what was described as “a lottery win rather than a payout”. David Johnson, the former head of a regional strategic health authority, was one of about 70 staff who left the organisation when it was abolished as part of a restructuring programme.

NHS Choices- Labour wastes £14 million on another useless website
Mon 25 Jun 07- NHS Choices a new website launched last week asks patients to rate and comment on NHS services. The Department of Health is ludicrosly comparing the NHS Choices site to tripadvisor.com, which publishes travellers’ holiday reviews.

Labour’s Whitehall advisers now cost £2bn a year
Thu 21 Jun 07- The increased use of external consultants by the labour government is costing the taxpayer nearly £2bn a year and is failing to ensure value for money, according to the public accounts committee. In a report published on Tuesday, the PAC estimates that in the past three years, spending on consultants in the public sector has risen by a third from £2.1bn in 2003-04 to £2.8bn in 2005-06, with central government accounting for £1.8bn, largely to increases in the NHS.

Concerns raised over accuracy of PCT benchmarking
Tue 12 Jun 07- Doubts have been raised over the accuracy of the latest quarterly hospital episode statistics following reports of problems with data collection. There are concerns that primary care trust benchmarking decisions and information on patient numbers, which informs payment by results, may be out of date as third quarter results (October-December 2006) were not published until mid May.

NHS figures show £510m annual surplus
Thu 7 Jun 07- The NHS apparently made a small surplus in 2006/07, figures unveiled by Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt showed. The NHS recorded a surplus of £510 million, the data showed. However, 22% of NHS organisations are still in debt and unable to balance their books. The gross deficit of the NHS stood at £911 million, down from £1.3 billion in 2005/06.

National Audit Office asked to investigate record £500m NHS underspend
Thu 31 May 07- The NAO has been asked to investigate whether a half billion pound underspend by the NHS in England was caused by political chicanery at the Department of Health. Norman Lamb, the Liberal democrat health spokesman , called in parliament’s spending watchdog yesterday after the record surplus was disclosed by the Guardian in an analysis of strategic health authority board papers.

Half of all Accident and Emergency units are marked for closure
Fri 18 May 07- Up to half of all hospital accident and emergency (A&E) departments face cuts or closure under plans to improve patient care, presenting Gordon “Stalin” Brown with a massive dilemma as he takes over as Prime Minister. Ninety-two out of 204 A&E departments are under threat if guidance attributed to the Department of Health by NHS trusts is followed, the Conservatives claimed.

NHS maternity services are at crisis point
Thu 3 May 07- The crisis at the heart of Britain’s maternity services is revealed tonight in a BBC Panorama programme that shows a catalogue of shortages and cutbacks. When a reporter posing as a volunteer tells a midwife at Barnet Hospital, Herts, that a woman who has been left in a corridor is crying, she is told to “tell her to get a life”.

NHS University- an embarrassing failure to deliver value for money says Labour government review
Mon 23 Apr 07- The NHS University (NHSU) the internal training and education body which cost £72m and was scrapped after less than two years, delivered ‘too little too late’, according to a scathing report that the labour government tried to suppress. A review carried out during the organisation’s short existence warns that the Department of Health would suffer ‘significant embarrassment’ if anyone probed the value for money provided by the NHSU.

NHS consultant contract attacked by NAO watchdog
Fri 20 Apr 07- Patients have not seen any improvement in the care they get under the new consultant contract, a watchdog says. The National Audit Office said despite pay rising by 27% to £110,000, doctors were not providing more flexible care or spending more time with patients.

Trust to shut award winning maternity unit despite pledge
Thu 12 Apr 07- An NHS foundation trust is planning to close an award-winning midwife-led maternity unit despite the government last week promising every woman the option of such a delivery. Heavily pregnant women in north Derbyshire will have to travel up to 21 miles on country roads because of plans to close the Darley Dale unit and cut community midwife numbers from 50 to 33

Hewitt U turn as hospital trusts to be free of Labour’s RBA rule
Thu 29 Mar 07- An accounting rule that has plunged more than two dozen hospital trusts into an irrecoverable financial position is to be ditched, Patricia Hewitt, the health secretary, announced yesterday. Now “absolutely confident” that the National Health Service would record a small surplus at the end of this financial year, Ms Hewitt said it could now use part of the £450m contingency reserve that strategic health authorities had built up to find the £179m needed to end a rule that the health department had long accepted was “unsustainable”.

The cost of NHS hospital parking- £95m
Tue 20 Mar 07- NHS hospitals were yesterday accused of exploiting the “most vulnerable” after they were found to have made more than £95 million in parking charges last year. Patients attending for treatment and relatives or friends visiting people in hospital were charged up to £3.50 an hour despite paying to build car parks through their taxes.

Handling of GPs’ out-of-hours service is ‘shambolic’ claim MPs
Thu 15 Mar 07- The labour Government’s handling of out-of-hours services for GP patients is condemned as “shambolic” by an all-party committee of MPs. The best interests of patients had not been served by the new system, the public purse had suffered and Saturday morning surgeries had been abandoned, the Publice Accounts Committee said.

New hearing aid target set as patients wait up to 70 weeks
Tue 6 Mar 07- Health trusts are being told by the government to make sure people with routine hearing problems are assessed for a hearing aid within six weeks. Thousands of people in the North West of England are being forced to wait up to 70 weeks for tests to see if they need a hearing aid. Stockport has been found to be the worst area for waiting times.

Full scale of Labour’s NHS cutbacks revealed
Fri 2 Mar 07- The full scale of impending hospital closures was laid bare last night as it emerged that three out of four trusts are already restricting patients’ access to treatment as they battle soaring deficits. Fears about the number of closures intensified as Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, sent NHS managers a guide on how best to handle decisions to shut down hospitals and units – a document that opposition politicians immediately branded a “spin” blueprint.

Hospitals told not to operate until cancer patients have waited 20 weeks
Mon 26 Feb 2007- A NHS surgeon today exposed how cash-strapped hospitals were being barred from operating on cancer patients who had not waited long enough. Wayne Jaffe laid the blame for the appalling state of affairs at the feet of Tony Bliar, with his vision of reduced waiting times and 24-hour surgery. In a withering assessment of the financial management of the health service, Mr Jaffe said that doctors were being restricted in getting waiting lists down by financial limitations and ever-changing targets.

More trusts expect deficits as NHS spending cuts bite
Thu 22 Feb 07- Patricia Hewitt’s job as secretary of state for health looked safer yesterday as the National Health Service forecast a tiny overall surplus for the current financial year despite more trusts projecting a bigger gross deficit than last year.

NHS paying bills late in struggle to balance books, say suppliers
Wed 14 Feb 07- The National Health Service is delaying paying bills and cutting orders for supplies as it tries to balance its books, according to the trade associations whose members supply the service with everything from scanners to diagnostic tests. Ray Hodgkinson, director-general of the British Healthcare Trades Association, said that while the picture was highly variable “some of our members are having real trouble getting money out of NHS trusts”.

Labour govt warns PCTs over lack of funding for dentistry capacity
Thu 8 Feb 07- Patients may have to resort to emergency care, or find an alternative practice, because their dentists have fulfilled their annual contracts too soon. The Department of Health has warned primary care trusts to have ‘clear lines ready in case of media interest’ if patients are left without a dentist in the closing weeks of the financial year.

Dental patients hit as dentists funding fails to add up
Thu 1 Feb 07- Dentists are turning away patients because miscalculations by the Department of Health have resulted in local health authorities running out of money in the dental budget. The problem has arisen because dentists have been treating more patients who are exempt from dental charges than had been anticipated under the new dental contract which came into force last April.

Health Direct backs Keep our NHS Public!
Tue 23 Jan 07- The NHS stands at a crossroads. For nearly 60 years Britain has enjoyed a National Health Service that strives to be comprehensive, accessible and high value for money. Now the labour government reforms threaten both the ethos of the NHS, and the planned and equitable way in which it delivers care to patients.

Tories claim labour government has lost faith in SHAs’ control of the workforce
Mon 15 Jan 07- The shadow health secretary has accused the government of losing confidence in the ability of strategic health authorities to manage workforce planning. Andrew Lansley has written to health secretary Patricia Hewitt in response to the leaked Department of Health pay and workforce strategy for 2008-11. The document, revealed in Health Direct last week, forecast a shortage of 14,000 nurses and a glut of 3,200 consultants by 2011.

Maternity wards cash cut amid boom in birthrate, say midwives
Wed 10 Jan 07- The NHS is responding to a boom in the birthrate by cutting spending on maternity services, the Royal College of Midwives said after a survey of more than 100 heads of midwifery in hospital trusts across Britain. It found that two thirds of maternity units were understaffed and most were trying to save money by employing fewer qualified midwives and taking on maternity support workers instead.

NHS hospitals told to delay operations to ease health service’s debt underfunding
Wed 3 Jan 07- The New Year has only just begun but it is clear that the next three months are not a good time to become ill as the NHS can not cope with Labour’s underfunding of the health services as patients in some parts of the National Health Service are for the first time facing minimum waits to be seen and treated as managers attempt to balance their books. Suffolk, Hertfordshire, North Yorkshire and Kingston are all imposing various forms of minimum wait, with some primary care trust chiefs saying their organisations may follow suit as the NHS battles to recover from last year’s £536m plus overspend.

Labour’s mismanagement has led to NHS deficits
Mon 18 Dec 06- Mismanagement at all levels of the NHS in England has led to the current multimillion pound deficit, a committee of MPs has found. The Commons health select committee said existing deficits were made worse by the cost of new staff pay deals and the expense of meeting NHS targets. Last year’s NHS deficit was £547m.

Consultancy ‘gravy train’ costs under fire on Bliar’s black day
Fri 15 Dec 06- On the day that Tony “purer than pure” Bliar suffered the double humiliation of becoming the first serving British prime minister to be interviewed by police conducting a criminal investigation and also his attorney general (possibly illegally) halting a separate criminal enquiry into alleged bribes to Saudi Arabians, the bad news that was cynically “buried” was the news that Labour’s “external consultancy gravy train” was attacked by a spending watchdog in a report which showed a 33 per cent rise in expenditure in the past year alone.

Labour’s NHS “changes” are all about saving money
Fri 8 Dec 06- The Labour government has launched a charm offensive to convince critics that hospital reconfigurations are not just about cutting costs. But many remain unconvinced. Protesters believe changes are being motivated by cash shortages- Huntingdon, Worthing, Epsom, Cheltenham and Redditch are hardly known for their militancy. But like many other towns across the country, they have seen demonstrations on a previously unheralded scale. The protesters, who include residents, NHS staff and MPs, are united in their concerns about cuts in their local health services.

£12 million GPs survey to cut doctors funding
Mon 27 Nov 06- Five million patients will next year be asked to fill in a questionnaire which will ask, among other things, whether they have been able to secure an appointment within 48 hours, as the Labour government has promised. The British Medical Association condemned the poll as unfair and biased, and accused the Department of Health of adding questions that had not been agreed. Most GPs accept that they are unlikely to score 100 per cent and so they will see a reduction in funding.

Accounts showing NHS soaring £156bn pension gap delayed again
Mon 20 Nov 06- The Labour government is under mounting pressure from to publish accounts which are set to reveal that the NHS’s pension liabilities have rocketed to £156bn – an increase of one third in just two years. The 2005-06 accounts for the pension scheme for nurses, doctors and other health workers are already almost five months late and civil servants have told The Sunday Telegraph the document is now unlikely to be published until the end of January.

NHS debt hits £1.2bn as patients face more service cuts
Mon 13 Nov 06- Front-line services for patients will have to be cut after it emerged last week that hospitals and GP surgeries are on course to run up a £1.2 billion deficit this year. Senior Whitehall officials admitted that operations and other services at many high-performing trusts may have to be axed this year so they can save money and build up surpluses.

PbR Payment by Results are fundamentally flawed says coding chief
Mon 30 Oct 06- The current system of Payment by Results (PbR) is ‘fundamentally flawed and unacceptable’ the head of the Professional Association of Clinical Coders warned last week. Managing director Sue Eve-Jones told an HSJ conference last week that the quality of data in the NHS could compromise any chances of ensuring fairness under PbR. Her presentation was subtitled ‘doing the best we can with a fundamentally flawed and unacceptable system’.

Labour blamed for £2.2 bn wasted by NHS every year
Mon 23 Oct 06– The National Health Service is wasting at least £2 billion a year, more than four times the record deficit reported in 2005-06, according to an analysis of hospital activities and finances set out by the Government today. The figures show that if the worst performing primary care trusts did as well as the best then £2.2 billion could be saved on a range of activities, including how long patients spend in hospitals, the level of “unnecessary” operations and the numbers of sick referred for hospital appointments.

“Scandal” of NHS cancelled operations
Tue 17 Oct 06- The National Health Service is cancelling more than 620 operations every day because of administrative blunders, it has been claimed. Mistakes, like forgetting to book operating theatres, led to about 162,500 procedures being abandoned in 2005. The numbers also appear to have gone up by a quarter over the past three years, according to newly released figures.

Health inspectors demand tough action to cure ‘weak’ NHS trusts
Thu 12 Oct 06-
The Healthcare Commission today published the first performance ratings for quality of services under the annual health check of NHS trusts in England. There was a mixed picture on quality of services in NHS with half of England’s hospitals graded in lowest category and only two organisations of the 570 trusts getting top marks in review.

An ex-nurse wins wards closure legal battle
Tue 26 Sep 06- A former nurse has won a High Court battle challenging the closure of two hospital wards. Pat Morris, 65, from Bowdon, Greater Manchester, challenged the decision to shut two rehabilitation wards for older people at Altrincham General Hospital. Mr Justice Hodge has ruled that the Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust’s move in March to close 26 beds was unlawful as there was no public consultation. But he refused to order the trust immediately to reopen the beds.

NHS external managers bill soars to over £172m this year
Tue 12 Sep 06- The NHS in England is set to spend £172m this year on external management consultants, a rise of 83% in only two years the Conservatives have claimed. The Tories warn spending on managers is detracting from clinical services. Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain figures from 76% of NHS trusts. The data shows a link between trusts with the biggest debts and most job cuts, the Tories said.

Spending on spin trebles under Bliar’s Labour govt
Thu 31 Aug 06- Spending on Government spin has trebled under Labour and taxpayers are now supporting an army of more than 3,200 press officers. The dramatic expansion of the Whitehall press machine under Tony Bliar is laid bare in official figures obtained by the Conservatives. A total of 1,815 press officers and other public relations staff works in Whitehall departments, including 117 in the Department of Health and 25 in the Health Protection Agency. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has three press officers, despite no longer having a department.

Public sector consultants to cost £20bn under Labour’s stewardship
Tue 8 Aug 06- The bill for management consultancy within government is set to top £20bn over the lifetime of three parliaments, according to a former consultant who has carried out an extensive survey of public spending on external advice. David Craig, formerly of Capgemini, the consulting company, and the author of Plundering the Public Sector, estimates that total expenditure on outside expertise will be worth £70bn from 1997 to 2009. This larger number includes spending on implementing large information technology projects, such as Connecting for Health, the digitisation of NHS records.

Independent treatment centres (ISTC) savaged by Health Select Committee report
Thur 27 Jul 2006- The House of Commons Health Select Committee has scathingly reported that the Independent Sector Treatment Centres (ISTC)s have produced only a tiny fraction of the NHS’s total capacity, ISTCs are not necessarily more efficient than NHS Treatment Centres, there is no proof about whether the ISTC programme represented value for money and accused Labour Ministers of muddled and “inconsistent thinking”.

Labour’s health charging is a “mess” reports Health Select Committee
Wed 19 July 2006- The House of Commons Health Select Committee in it’s report on health charges finds that the system of health charges in England is a mess. Charges for prescriptions and dentistry have been in place for over 50 years and sight tests for almost 20 years. They have not been introduced following detailed analysis of their likely consequences; rather they have come about piecemeal, often in response to the need to raise money. There are no comprehensible underlying principles. The charges remain largely for ‘historical’ reasons.

Doubts over NHS community hospitals’ new plan
Mon 10 July- Concerns have been raised about the Labour government’s plan to reinvigorate NHS community services in England as several community hospitals have already closed. Apparently, £750m is being made available to NHS trusts over the next five years to help move care out of hospitals.

NHS staff are “not reporting errors”
Thu 6 Jul- Nearly 1m patient safety lapses occurred last year and too many NHS staff still do not report lapses in patient safety, MPs say. The Public Accounts Committee said nearly a quarter of incidents and 39% of “near misses” go unreported, with doctors being the worst culprits. And the cross-party group said more should be done to cut the number of errors, especially those which cause serious harm or death.

Hospital pays off surgeons in NHS cash crisis
Mon 26 Jun- Two doctors at a leading NHS hospital have become the first consultant surgeons to be made redundant as a result of the financial crisis in the health service. Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust, which has a £33m deficit, has given two consultant gastrointestinal surgeons, one full-time and one part- time, three months’ notice.

Trusts criticised for outsourcing patient records to cut costs
Fri 23 Jun- Hospital trusts faced criticism from Britain’s biggest trade union yesterday over a scheme to send tens of thousands of confidential patient records to be transcribed in India, the Philippines and South Africa under a new form of outsourcing that will save the NHS millions of pounds.

Concern over £28m in unpaid NHS Trust bills
Wed 14 Jun- Nine foundation trusts have ‘significant concerns’ over whether outstanding bills will be paid by primary care trusts. The trusts are warning that £28m might have to be written off. The figures were revealed in the preliminary financial results for foundation trusts for 2005-06, published by regulator Monitor this week.

NHS needs to take £1bn out of costs after record £536m overspend
Fri 9 Jun- The National Health Service in England will have to take more than £1bn out of its costs this year after its overspend last year doubled to a record £536m. In the case of a small number of hospitals that have overspent by tens of millions of pounds, that “could be detrimental to patient care”, the National Audit Office warned yesterday. It added that some have such large cumulative deficits that there is a question mark over whether they can remain “going concerns”.

Late NHS payments shut down staff agencies
Fri 19 May- Employment agencies that supply staff to the National Health Service are going bust because NHS trusts have put off paying them in their attempts to deal with big overspends in the health service. At the same time, suppliers of equipment and tests to the NHS say they are owed tens of millions of pounds- which is the result of hospitals putting off paying bills from the last financial year to this.

Search for new health chief goes overseas as UK candidates fail to shine
Wed 10 May- The search for a new chief executive for the financially beleaguered National Health Service is to go overseas as the Department of Health struggles to attract high quality applicants to top posts. In an indication that they do not expect the search to be a short one, ministers have said Sir Ian Carruthers, the acting NHS chief executive, will have his secondment extended from July until the end of the year.

NHS deficits “hit mental health” patients
Tue 2 May– The NHS is facing a deficit of at least £600m and the mental health services are being unfairly hit by the deficits problem gripping the NHS, MPs say. The Tories said over a half of the NHS trusts providing mental health services have had to close wards despite none of them running up a deficit.

Treatment centre programme in disarray as contracts axed

Fri 28 Apr- The Department of Health has been forced to scrap a large swathe of its second-wave independent treatment centre programme nearly a year after it first invited private sector healthcare organisations to bid for the lucrative contracts, HSJ has learned. The ITC programme appeared in disarray this week as it emerged that seven of the 24 local schemes – all part of the multi-million-pound second- wave elective surgery contract – have been axed, with the rest being delayed by up to a year.

Children’s hospitals warn of £22m funding crisis in PbR

Tue 18 Apr- Four children’s hospitals have warned health ministers they will have to cut specialist services because of miscalculations in the new Payments by Results (PbR) system championed by Tony Bliar as part of his NHS reforms. The shortfall will mean cuts in services with specialist surgical procedures most at risk the trusts claim.

24,000 jobs are now at risk in the NHS claims new research

Mon 10 Apr– Patricia Hewitt has faced pressure from Labour MPs to step in and help debt-ridden hospitals amid fears that up to 24,000 jobs could be lost across the National Health Service. Alarm has grown among Labour’s backbenchers as they have witnessed nearly 7,000 job losses being announced by NHS trusts across the country in the space of a few weeks. Figures published today show that the number of posts axed by hospital managers could eventually rise to nearly four times that figure.

Secret NHS plan to ration patient care with new review panels blocking choice

Fri 7 Apr– Patients are being denied appointments with consultants in a systematic attempt to ration care and save the NHS money. Leaked documents passed to The Times show that while Labour ministers promise patients choice, a series of barriers are being erected limiting GPs’ rights to refer people to consultants.

Bowel cancer screening tests cut in NHS cash crisis

Thur 30 Mar- A national screening programme aimed at saving more than 1,000 lives a year from bowel cancer has been cut because of the funding crisis facing the NHS. The project, which would pick up the disease in patients before they developed any symptoms, was due to be rolled out across the UK in two weeks time. Bowel cancer is a major killer in Britain, and is diagnosed in 34,000 patients a year, claiming 16,000 lives annually.

Brown’s budget- NHS Health service slips down the waiting list

Thu 23 Mar– If the National Health Service was listening to the Budget speech yesterday it should have been quaking in its boots. The chancellor machine-gunned the House of Commons, not just with his usual battery of statistics but with his priorities – ones he clearly sees as shaping his inheritance when, as he hopes, he steps into the prime minister’s shoes.

Wards closed and staff cut as NHS cash crisis bites

Fri 10 Mar– Compulsory redundancies in the NHS were announced yesterday, despite record investment in the service. Unions predicted that more job cuts would follow after hospital trusts announced ward closures, the cancellation of 24-hour care and staff redundancies. The Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, facing an £8.1 million shortfall, said 300 staff would have to go and some departures would be compulsory.

Why is NHS productivity falling- yet Labour claims it could be rising?

Thu 2 Mar– The Office for National Statistics started a fierce disagreement over output and productivity in the National Health Service this week as it launched a consultation into the issue. The ONS reported that different techniques could show NHS productivity rose by 1.6 per cent a year between 1999 and 2004 or that it fell by 1.5 per cent a year. Official figures show a decline of close to 1 per cent a year.

Commission warns Health ministers to keep careful watch on pace of reforms

Fri 17 Feb– Ministers need to be careful about the pace of reform of the National Health Service, Sir Michael Lyons, acting chairman of the Audit Commission warned. “It would be very easy to say slow it all down,” Sir Michael said in an interview with the Financial Times as huge changes are taking place in the way the NHS works. Organisations are reporting deficits running into tens of millions of pounds with the service in England likely to overspend this year by several hundred million.

Flagship hospital halts operations in NHS cash crisis

Fri 10 Feb– ‘Over-performing’ surgeons turn away non-emergency cases in latest NHS cash crisis. One of the Labour government’s most successful flagship hospitals has been forced to ban non-emergency surgery after doctors cut long waiting lists by carrying out ‘too many’ operations..

Hewitt calls for hospitals to close- despite record funds

Tue 31 Jan– A swathe of hospital closures and reconfigurations was signalled by Patricia Hewitt as a necessary step to get the National Health Service back into financial balance. The health secretary’s admission that big changes would be needed in the way services were delivered in some parts of the country came as she announced she was sending “turnaround teams” into the 18 NHS organisations facing the greatest financial risks.

Hospitals shut wards as cash crisis bites

Mon 23 Jan– The spiralling cash crisis in the NHS has already forced two thirds of hospitals to close wards and will soon start directly affecting patient care, health chiefs warn. A survey of 117 chief executives of NHS trusts reveals the depth of concern among healthcare professionals about the destabilising impact of wide-ranging govt reforms. Three quarters of them say that growing financial pressures brought on by primary and acute care restructuring will affect patient treatment.

NHS reforms ‘won’t bring more cash’- Lord Winston fertility expert

Wed 18 Jan– Fertility expert Lord Winston expressed doubt that Labour’s NHS reforms would deliver more cash for services and spoke in favour of taking control of healthcare away from politicians. He criticised all political parties for not having been “absolutely candid” about problems facing the NHS and said that it would be difficult to meet spiralling costs from taxation alone.

Hospitals may close in cash crisis- Labour govt watchdog warns

Tue 10 Jan– NHS services across two counties are on the brink of a financial collapse that could disrupt services to patients, the Audit Commission warned last night. It said the entire health economy in Surrey and Sussex is at risk due to weak financial management and failure to address problems raised by district auditors over the past few years.

NHS set to miss 18 week waiting times key Labour target

Thu 5 Jan– The National Health Service will miss its key target to cut waiting times for treatment to a maximum of 18 weeks by 2008 without additional capacity and more reform, an analysis by the Financial Times shows. Reaching the target will involve either an unprecedented increase in productivity, or more work contracted out to the private sector – or most likely both – according to leading academics.

2006- the NHS’s year for living dangerously- a Financial Times editorial viewpoint

Sat 31 Dec– According to the Financial Times’s editorial today- for the Labour government’s healthcare policy, and possibly for the National Health Service in England itself, 2006 looks like a make or break year. Twelve months ago, the same would not have been said.

Watchdog targets the scandal of means test injustice

Tue 20 Dec– Many elderly people are still not getting their care costs met, and the Health Service Ombudsman Ann Abraham has had enough. Health authorities’ bungling of means tests for long term care fees prompted the watchdog to act to try to stop the scandal once and for all.

Hewitt, Herceptin and the £100m bill the NHS can’t afford to pay

Tue 13 Dec– Women with early stage breast cancer see Herceptin as a potential life-saver, but health economies must cater for the needs of the whole population. And political interference makes a difficult situation even worse. It started with Somerset nurse Barbara Clark preparing to sell her house to fund a course of drugs that could be crucial in her fight against breast cancer.

Operations cancelled as hospitals run out of money

Mon 5 Dec- Significant parts of the National Health Service have lost financial control, with operations being delayed and jobs shed in an attempt to balance the books. On current projections, the NHS is on course for a £623m net deficit this year: a figure the Department of Health hopes to reduce to £200m by the year-end.

Private hospitals to face NHS-style red tape inspections

Tue 29 Nov– Private hospitals are to face broadly the same system of inspection and regulation as National Health Service establishments, the Healthcare Commission will announce this week. The body that inspects the NHS and gives the private sector a licence to operate believes that by 2008 hospitals, clinics and treatment centres run by the independent sector might treat one in seven non-emergency patients.

ITC gets 600pc profit mark up in red tape Oxfordshire farce

Mon 28 Nov– An independent treatment centre that sparked rows and resignations in Oxfordshire has lost the local health economy over £200,000 in its first six months, according to a revealing report by South East and West Oxfordshire primary care trusts.

Holby- style hospitals on casualty list as closures loom

Thu 24 Nov– The district general hospital – epitomised in the television series Holby City – may soon become a relic of the past as patients turn to private providers for their healthcare, according to a top-level report being prepared in Whitehall. The likely end of the district hospital underlines the scale of change in the National Health Service as it adapts to government reforms.

NHS Direct may be broken up as national contract is reviewed

Fri 18 Nov– NHS Direct will make its case for survival this week as it faces the imminent regional break-up of its national contract to provide unscheduled and urgent care advice and information services. The government is widely expected to advocate regional break-up of unscheduled access to advice and information in its forthcoming white paper on healthcare outside hospitals.

Standards dropped with Lower threshold for hospitals seeking foundation status

Wed 16 Nov– The Labour Government has decided to lower the threshold for hospitals that want to apply for foundation status. The foundation programme, a flagship Government policy to free them of central controls, has been strongly contested within the Labour Party and the decision is likely to fuel fears that the NHS is being privatised.

Red tape costs rise as savings quango cost Labour £37m

Tue 1 Nov– The closure of eight arm’s-length bodies has cost the Department of Health £32m over the past year while the establishment of four new bodies since November 2004 has cost a further £4.7 million.

DoH challenged on high use of temp staff

Wed 26 Oct– The Department of Health is facing questions over the number of temporary staff it has taken on since meeting its pledge to cut its permanent workforce by over a third. The DoH has been unable to provide either HSJ or the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents civil servants, with figures showing how many temporary staff it has hired since achieving plans to cut permanent staff by 38 per cent during the year ending October 2004. .

NHS Breast Cancer costs patients thousands of Pounds

Tue 18 Oct– Having breast cancer can cost women thousands of pounds, a survey by Macmillan Cancer Relief said a survey of 50 patients found they faced unexpected bills for hospital parking fees, prescriptions and diet changes. On average, the cost was £2,000, but one woman spent £12,000, which included buying a car to get to hospital. Travel and parking was identified as the equal highest cost.

Herceptin cancer drug decision victory will not set precedent

Wed 4 Oct– An expensive life-saving cancer drug will not be prescribed to all patients who need it. This is despite a legal victory this week for a nurse with breast cancer, who asked her local primary care trust to sanction treatment.

£1m consultation bill for NHS- dismay

Wed 28 Sep– The Labour government’s flagship public consultation on the future of primary care services will cost almost £1m, HSJ can reveal. Politicians and experts this week rounded on the Your Health, Your Care, Your Say project after details obtained by HSJ under the Freedom of Information Act put the cost at £900,799.

Audit Commission findings on NICE guidance “appalling” says CancerBACUP

Tue 20 Sep– CancerBACUP highlighted the problem of postcode prescribing of cancer treatments in October 2003” says CancerBACUP Chief Executive Joanne Rule. “It is appalling that almost two years later the Audit Commission has found that only 25% of NHS bodies are implementing NICE guidance and that a lack of financial management at PCT level is largely to blame.

Patients blinded by private providers Netcare

Thu 18 Aug– Three patients were blinded after treatment from one of the government’s new private providers Netcare. Are the patients’ safeguards enough?

Wide variations in A&E departments warns watchdog

Tue 9 Aug– The Healthcare Commission urges hospitals to monitor variations in the quality of care in accident and emergency departments. Publishing a report on 200 A&E departments in England, the watchdog says that hospital trusts should systematically measure care quality as well as waiting times.

Cancer patient sells home to pay for cancer drug Avastin

Wed 3 Aug– A woman who was forced to sell the family home to pay for pioneering cancer treatment in the US has returned to Britain almost penniless – only to be told by her health authority that it would not pay for the anti-cancer drug she needs, even though it is now licensed in the UK.

Patient enthusiasm for private sector threatens hospitals

Fri 22 July– NHS hospitals across Birmingham and the Black Country strategic health authority may struggle to survive if they do not address the threat from the private sector, research has revealed. And the SHA has warned that other cities may face the same risks.

Mass redundancies expected as SHAs tackle £750m shortfall

Mon 11 July-Thousands of jobs are likely to be lost across the health service as NHS organisations fight to achieve financial balance. HSJ has learned that the English NHS is struggling with a combined shortfall of around £750m, which will mean significant job losses in an attempt to claw back money. Several senior sources have suggested that more than 8,000 jobs could be lost.

Watchdogs warn on NHS overspends

Fri 24 June- The National Health Service has failed to balance its books for the first time in five years and faces “unprecedented challenges” as it attempts to keep services open in the new market-oriented environment, two independent spending watchdogs have warned.

Complaints bills to be charged to Trusts

Mon 23 May- Patients will be the losers if the Healthcare Commission presses ahead with proposals to charge trusts for dealing with complaints made against them it was warned.

NHS failing to hit key AfC deadline

Mon, 16 May- Over three quarters of NHS organisations have failed to hit a crucial Agenda for Change progress target, the Department of Health director of workforce admitted this week.

Mr Targets- Bliars inside man

Tue, April 19– Mr Targets- Bliars man who bypasses health department- known throughout Whitehall as Mr Targets, Michael Barber, has become one of the key behind-the-scenes figures of Tony Bliars second term.

Billions of pounds of health lies

Mon, April 18- The documents given to The Telegraph establish beyond reasonable doubt what all doctors working in British hospitals have long known but many have been afraid to say: that decisions affecting the treatment of patients are being made not on proper clinical grounds but merely to meet government targets that were themselves devised, and are now being used, to make crude party political propaganda.

Trust given foundation status despite £3m debt

Fri, April 15– Lancashire Teaching Hospitals trust was given foundation status this month despite debts of £3m. The trust was awarded foundation status on 1 April, along with five other trusts, even though it is in the red

NHS needs fundamental reform not more money.

Wed, April 13– Here we are again with another election looming and the NHS in the centre of the fray. Only this time, the debate is not about whether the NHS needs more cash. Spending has increased by 40 per cent in real terms in just five years and all the major political parties are pledged to spend much more.

Names of millionaire NHS dentists kept secret

Mon, April 4– Labour govt officials are coming under pressure to release the names of dental practices that are earning million-pound incomes in the National Health Service.

Political pressure is undermining finance reforms

Fri, April 1- Political pressure undermining the finance reforms, warns Dredge- political manoeuvring could wreck the government’s flagship NHS finance reform, a chief architect of the policy has broken cover to warn.

Revealed: where the extra NHS cash is really spent

Mon, March 21– Tony Bliar has failed to transform the National Health Service despite the biggest government spending spree in the 60-year history of the welfare state, according to an independent audit.

Hospitals in cash crisis

Fri, March 18- Hospitals are becoming financial victims of their own success by meeting their targets, an increase in A+E patients and higher doctors’ pay are all to blame- but how can hospitals be in financial trouble at a time when NHS spending is rising so quickly?

It is no wonder that since 1997 the public sector has grown by almost 500,000. Under the Labour govt organisational change has become a substitute for action. This helps to explain why despite some much more money being spent on the civil servants that there has been so little improvement in our frontline services.

Tony Bliar has continually told us that his government is a radical improvement on previous failed socialist governments. Yet, his relentless concentration on the machinery of government is a throwback to the state planning of the Wilson govt and the Soviet Union and their subsequent decline into economic paralysis.

Bliar’s new bureaucracy is equally doomed to failure because it focuses entirely on procedures rather than improvements. Organising meetings, recruiting more staff, producing reports and issuing press statements are the primary exersices of these new quangoes.

Generating a blizzard of paperwork is the chief way in which they justify their own expensive existences:

Red tape organisation
What it does
Annual Costs
Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health
Ensures patients’ views are heard
£31,000,000
Commission for Social Care Inspection
Inspects care homes
£147,000,000
Council for the Regulation of Healthcare Professionals
Professional standards watchdog
£2,000,000
Food Standards Agency
Gives advice and information on food quality
£119,000,000
General Social Care Council
The professional body of social workers
£13,100,000
26 Health Action zones
Promotes local healthcare initiatives
£52,000,000
350 Healthy Living centers
Promotes healthier living amongst the public
£300,000,000 (Funded by the Lottery)
Health Development Agency
Establishes evidence of what works in health practice
£12,000,000
Health Protection Agency
Protects the health and wellbeing of everyone
£195,000,000
Healthcare Commission
Inspects and audits health services
£71,500,000
Independent Regulator of the NHS Foundation Trusts
Monitors the new NHS foundation hospitals
£5,000,000
Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency
Monitors the safety of treatments and drugs
£67,000,000
NHS Direct
Advices patients on healthcare
£131,000,000
NHS Logistics Authority
Includes management consultants
£709,000,000
NHS Information Authority
Overseas IT within the NHS
£217,000,000
NHS Appointments Commission
Overseas recruitment
£3,600,000
NHS Counter Fraud service
Combats fraud
£16,400,000
NHS Modernisation Agency
Advices clinicians on developments in healthcare treatments
£161,000,000
NHS Professionals Authority
Service to manage temporary staffing & recruitment
£23,000,000
NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency
Maximises the ROI of purchasing supplies
£21,000,000
NHS University
Encourages learning among NHS professionals
£44,600,000
National Institute of Clinical Excellence
Advices NHS on the effectiveness of treatments
£18,200,000
National Clinical Assesment Authority
Supports underperforming authorities
£10,200,000
National Patient Safety Agency
Reviews failing practices and treatments
£17,500,000
National Treatment Agency for drugs
Assists managers of drug treatment services
£4,000,000
Post-Graduate Medical Training Board
Supervises post graduate medical education
£2,000,000
Social Care Institute of Excellence
Promotes good practice in social care
£2,000,000
UK transplant
Responsible for the transplant service
£13,800,000
TOTALS £2,408,900,000

Source: Sunday Telegraph November 28th 2004

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