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Health Insight May 2002: Health in the news

  Health Secretary Alan Milburn certainly saw his fair share of conferences in May. At one in London he outlined plans for new ‘foundation’ hospitals (see ‘Hospitals: the good, the best and the bad’) and in Harrogate he told delegates how the NHS would in future rely permanently on private healthcare companies to treat patients from hospital waiting lists (see ‘Private sector given permanent NHS role’). However, it seems that the waiting lists wouldn’t be quite so bad if operations weren’t cancelled by managers and doctors, according to a report from the Audit Commission (see ‘Inefficient operating theatres’).

It seems that despite Gordon Brown’s promises in the recent budget voters still aren’t convinced that the Labour party will deliver (see ‘Major survey shows NHS not safe in Labour’s hands’).

Donor offspring wanting to know the identity of their genetic fathers has led to a re-think of the UK fertility laws, and high profile paternity cases are bringing into question the ethics of secretly taken DNA samples (see ‘UK fertility laws and secret DNA testing questioned’).

Drug use in the UK has risen to the highest level in Europe. Plans are being drawn up to halt the route of crack cocaine into Britain and also show shock anti-drugs videos to children (see ‘Government accused of losing the drugs war’).

GPs will soon need a licence to practise under new plans drawn up by the General Medical Council (see ‘GPs: can I see your licence please?’).

The government is funding more schemes to get children off to a good start (see ‘Encouraging healthy children’). But when they get older they must be aware of the possible effects of aspirin and a controversial acne drug (see ‘News from the Medicines Control Agency’).

And some not so heartening news for women – you are more likely to get intensive care treatment following a heart attack if you are a man! (see ‘Heart attacks: better to be a man’).


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