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Regular Columns

September's menu – food and drugs, followed by arguments about the bill – Health Policy Today, 2 September 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
09/02/2008 - 18:30

The Times today carries a new supplement – Agenda. Within it is a chart of forthcoming political events. In health terms, we are in for a month of political debate on food and drugs, followed by an argument about how to divide the bill.


On September the 17th, the Food Standards Agency board will meet in London. On its agenda will be a report on whether traffic lights symbols or guidance amount labels are the best way to inform health eating choices.

Gearing up for competition and building the barricades: GPs 'awkward position' - Health Policy Today, Monday 1st September 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
09/01/2008 - 17:15

August - the media's traditional 'silly season' - has been short on stories about GPs and polyclinics. Most of the month has been dominated by discussion of NICE and access to drugs, with the politics of food making an interesting appearance at the end of the month.

In September, these themes will continue and be joined by primary care finance and reform.


The Maynard Doctrine: time to "screw" the NHS?

Alan Maynard is professor of health economics, University of York

Monday 1 September 2008

Time to "screw" the NHS?

The Blair-Brown axis has increased the funding of the NHS in an unprecedented manner, with an additional £50 billion and total expenditure now of £105 billion. Soon we will be spending ten per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) on the NHS. What are we getting for our money?

Protestors have their say on financial management in the NHS - Health Policy Today, 28th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/28/2008 - 17:00

Amid reports of a surprise surplus for the NHS, many patients will be asking whether the money can be put toward new treatments, particular those patient protestors who locked themselves in to the NICE offices yesterday to complain about the rejection of drugs for advanced stage kidney cancer.


Political posturing on public health – Health Policy Today, 27th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/27/2008 - 17:15

Today’s headlines in advance of Andrew Lansley’s speech on obesity were along the lines of ‘Conservatives say there is no excuse for being fat’, but this masks a deeper political point.

In a wide-ranging speech, Lansley sought to put clear blue water between Conservative and Labour approaches. The problem is that the speech is being interpreted as a little too close to business interests.


Uncontrollable forces in debates on the availability of drugs - Health Policy Today, 26th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/26/2008 - 18:20

The debate about the availability of expensive drugs is changing in nature. It is being linked to a need for more insurance, to provide for expensive drugs, amid reports that the European Commission proposes to allow pharmaceutical firms to provide information directly to patients about their products, on the radio, the internet and in newspapers.


After a short summer simmer, polyclinic politics promise provincial pyrotechnics – Health Policy Today, 20th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/20/2008 - 15:00

GPs you see today might have a spring in their step. The BMA aims to enlist local authority Overview & Scrutiny Committees in their war on polyclinics. Reports of a Lancet paper suggest the new GP contract has rapidly eroded inequalities of care in just three years. We are even told that the news prescriptions rose in Wales by 5% (in the first year since charges were scrapped) is a good thing and testament to the success of GPs better managing chronic conditions, giving more medicines so less is spent on hospital admissions.

Tablet of stories reveals an unhealthy obsession with drugs – Health Policy Today, 19th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/19/2008 - 17:35

In today's press there are 17 pieces relevant to the ongoing debate about access to drugs; their cost; and how we judge their effectiveness. There are also reports of safety concerns, but by far the biggest volume of stories (7 from 15) relate to potential new discoveries. This tablet of stories reveals an unhealthy social obsession with drugs.

Listing all these stories in a table allows them to be moved around, better revealing the contours of our drugs debate (pasted at the foot of this piece).

A panoramic debate widens further still – Health Policy Today, 18th August 2008

Publish Date/Time: 
08/18/2008 - 17:10

It is sometimes said that what happens in the US comes to Britain a few years later. It is not so often commented, however, that the US is beginning to pick up some things from the British system.

The Maynard Doctrine: the challenges of healthcare reform in the USA

The US healthcare system is fragmented and expensive, costing twice as much per capita as the NHS and consuming nearly 16 per cent of a much larger national income.

If you are elderly or disabled, you can get a reasonable package of healthcare benefits from Medicare, which is federally funded. If you have fought for US armed forces, you are eligible for benefits from the Veterans Administration which is also federally funded and an efficient mini-NHS.

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