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Health Insight April 2002: Health in the news

  Chancellor Gordon Brown had certainly prepared the British populace for some unwelcome news in the Budget Statement last month. And so it came to pass that national insurance payments went up to help pay for a state-of-the-art National Health Service (see ‘Budget gives the NHS the "kiss of life"’). There was much written about this aspect of the chancellor’s statement (see ‘After the budget’) and the Royal College of Nursing’s well-timed annual conference did not waste the opportunity to say how much they needed more money (see ‘The crucial role of nurses in the NHS’), to encourage them into the profession and keep them there. More obstetricians and gynaecologists are needed too and one in ten consultants in A & E wards are said to have felt suicidal (see ‘NHS consultants: too few and too stressed’).

April also saw the reorganisation of the NHS (see ‘The birth of the primary care trust’) with Health Secretary, Alan Milburn, urging hospitals to be honest about where their money is spent to give the new Primary Care Trusts a better informed commissioning role.

Much excitement was felt about the dawn of gene therapy with a touching story about an 18-month-old boy being able to come out of his sterile world after treatment to cure his inability to develop an immune system (see ‘"Bubble baby" freed by gene therapy’).

Therapies to aid smokers in giving up the habit are now to be available on prescription, following NICE guidance on their effectiveness. It may also not be long before the familiar tobacco names on the sides of racing cars disappear (see ‘More encouragement to help smokers quit’).

All in all a busy month in the UK.


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