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Editor's blog 17 June 2008: The line, and how to toe it

Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight

Welcome to Health Policy Insight, a new online health policy information and analysis service.

New on the site today is Nick Timmins’ first HPI column, which considers the impact of ‘top-ups’ to NHS care. The Government is due to announce today or tomorrow that it will change policy. The level of detail to be announced, however, is uncertain.

The abstract principle of payment for healthcare was breached with prescription charges in the NHS’s earliest days. In the English NHS today, dentistry and audiology show us a residualist NHS service for much of the country, while access to physiotherapy and various mental health services in psychotherapy can be deeply patchy. And then there’s car parking charges …

Nick Timmins: Top-ups: the earth moves as the NHS's 60th anniversary approaches

Publish Date/Time: 
06/18/2008 - 14:30

Top-ups: the earth moves as the NHS's 60th anniversary approaches

Now topping-up is to be permitted, does the NHS need a consumer framework? And should there be any cut-off point at all?

First Thoughts … Last Thoughts
by Nicholas Timmins , public policy editor, Financial Times



Interview - Norman Lamb MP on the Lib Dems' new health policies

Fresh perspective: Liberal Democrats outline new health policies

The right to ‘top up’, defined patient entitlements, direct budgets for long-term conditions and direct elections for PCT boards.


by Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight
It’s been difficult to write about Lib Dem health policies in recent years for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there haven’t been many worth the name. Secondly, since Evan Harris, they have had a series of spokespeople on health who have not exactly impressed.

Health Policy Today - Monday 16th June

Publish Date/Time: 
06/24/2008 - 13:03

Tom Smith on today’s health policy debate.
The big story of the day is the Healthcare Commission’s warning that NHS trusts have 10 months to get on track with the management of hospital acquired infections or face the consequences of being labelled a failing trust. The weekend’s papers continued to debate polyclinics, making the grounds for disagreement between the government and doctors more clear. Both the FT and the Sunday Times reported that the Government is set to rewrite its rules on allowing co-payments in the NHS.

Health policy today – Friday 13th June

Publish Date/Time: 
07/01/2008 - 16:40

Tom Smith on today’s health policy debate.

Amongst today’s headlines includes the snappy, ‘super surgeries row rumbles on’ as well as the not so snappy, ‘Gordon Brown accuses doctors of ill founded allegations over polyclinics’. While many people will today be aware that the government has fallen out with doctors, they may still not be clear about why.

Health policy today – Thursday 12th June

Publish Date/Time: 
07/01/2008 - 16:38

Tom Smith on today’s health policy debates.

BMA deliver petition to Downing Street

An Independent article today notes that “a bitter war of words has broken out between government and family doctors over plans for polyclinics across England”. After Health Minister Ben Bradshaw yesterday accused the BMA of “misleading and mendacious” behavior, the BMA will hit back today will a show of popular support.

Health policy today – Weds 11th June

Publish Date/Time: 
07/01/2008 - 16:34

Tom Smith introduces a new daily analysis of health policy debate that will appear exclusively on Health Policy Insight at teatime each day.

While press summaries give readers a clue about the surface of debate our new summary aims to scratch beneath the surface and make sense of what is being discussed. It aims to set the reports in context and compare commentary across the British print and broadcast media. Each day the press is full of discussion about health policy, partly reflecting the current highly charged political atmosphere, but also a fair amount of uncertainty about the aims of policy, how different elements link together or don’t, and more crucially how policy should be taken forward and by whom.



Money, money, money in a surplus world

Why do SHAs appear to average a 15% surplus on turnover, while 25% of community matron posts remain unfilled?

by Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight

Money is interesting stuff, and eloquent with it. In a great lyric by Chief Medical Officer Liam Donaldson’s hero Bob Dylan, “money doesn’t talk, it swears”. So what four-letter word would sum up a surplus of £1.658 billion – just over 2% of the NHS budget?



Time for better day and vocational services in mental health

Preview: ‘About time: commissioning to transform day and vocational services’

by Helen Lockett, Linda Seymour and Adam Pozner, Sainsburys Centre for Mental Health



Editorial 6 June 2008: Franchising management (again) for failing trusts…

except it’s not franchising and we don’t know what they mean by ‘failing’. Unsuccessful 2001 policy re-announced in motivational boost for NHS managers.

by Andy Cowper, editor, Health Policy Insight

The Department of Health has launched a new outline document ‘Developing The NHS Performance Regime’, to address consistently poor-performing NHS trusts.