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Health Insight March 2002: Our 'world class' healthcare system


The NHS is in line for a £1bn increase in funding next year after Chancellor Gordon Brown committed the government to a publicly funded ‘world class’ healthcare system. In the most attention-grabbing section of his pre-budget report the Chancellor said that a ‘significantly higher share of national income’ would have to be spent on the NHS – seen by some as a signal of future tax rises. Mr Brown said that the NHS must meet the needs of the people of Britain and put patients first. He referred to an interim report on the future funding of the NHS, which concluded that public spending was the most efficient way of funding the service. With the report highlighting a ‘decisive difference’ in the level of resources devoted to health by Britain’s European neighbours, Mr Brown insisted the NHS would need ‘significantly’ more public money.

Earlier in the month Health Secretary Alan Milburn set out the need for radical reform in the relationship between health and social care. He highlighted progress in reducing delayed discharge – so-called ‘bed-blocking’ – as a result of recent investment, but made clear that sustained investment in social services required breaking down the ‘Berlin Wall’ that divides health and social services. Speaking to a conference of healthcare professionals in London Mr Milburn said, ‘I believe passionately that the right way forward is to continue investing and to press ahead with reform.’

As March drew to a close Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Secretary Alan Milburn attended a meeting at the NHS modernisation board, in what was seen as in an attempt to show that money put into the health service was not going to waste. They outlined how the £49bn NHS budget in England and Wales was divided up over the past financial year, saying that extra health service spending helped pay for more operations, staff and drugs.

Source: BBC Online

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