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Health in the month

The Queen's Speech and a major report on inequalities and health made November an eventful month for the health sector. The government's comprehensive plans for modernisation of the NHS were detailed in the Queen's Speech and the Acheson report advocated no less than 75 measures to be taken to address the growing 'health gap' between the rich and the poor in Britain today. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has announced £25 million additional funding for the NHS to help it deal this year with the additional pressures that winter always brings. Other new government initiatives have included plans to improve care for the elderly and for those who live in rural areas.

Once again, health issues relating to food have been in the media spotlight with further revelations emerging from the BSE inquiry and, on the positive side, the launch of a programme to immunise the nation's chickens against salmonella. Despite growing public concern on food safety, the government has not moved further to set up the promised Food Standards Agency; it received no mention in the Queen's Speech. Meningitis has also received much media coverage, with further cases reported amongst children and young adults. More and more NHS patients are using the services of the health ombudsman to raise concerns about their treatment. However, those who complain remain in a small minority given the huge and growing caseload faced by the NHS.

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