WHAT IS TO SHOW FOR THE EXTRA £43BILLION SPENT ON THE NHS
September 14, 2007
Five years on from his seminal report for the Treasury -- which paved the way for the 50 percent real increase in the United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) funding since 2002 -- Sir Derek Wanless published a review of how the extra £43 billion (about U.S. $86.5 billion) has been spent, says the Independent.
It would be difficult to plough an extra £43 billion into the NHS and not get something back for it, but there still remain several problems, says Wanless:
- The NHS has gotten less efficient and is facing a bigger burden from the lifestyle problems of obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise.
- Though the extra cash has bought extra services, there has not been a big enough bang for the buck.
- Productivity is the big disappointment -- the NHS looks as if it is less efficient than it was.
Further, high pay rises for doctors and nurses have made matters worse, says Wanless:
- Doctors in particular have had eye-watering rises of 25 percent for consultants and 23 per cent for general practitioners under their new contracts.
- The scale of these increases and the bigger than expected growth in NHS staff has contributed to declining productivity.
- To take one example, between 2000 and 2006, the number of patients admitted few per consultant fell by more than 20 percent and the number of emergency cases by 8 percent.
Tony Blair's mantra about the NHS was, "No extra cash without reform," says the Independent. Wanless's report shows that the cash has been provided -- sackloads of it -- but reform is still awaited. By throwing money at the problem, the government turned the NHS wheel faster -- but only produced more of the same.
Source: Jeremy Laurance, "The Big Question: What is to show for the extra £43bn spent on the NHS in the last five years?" The Independent, September 12, 2007.
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