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National Health Service Improvement Plan - Essay Example

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The National Health Service (NHS) Improvement Plan 2004 had been dubbed as a "patient-centered" proposal that set out a 10 year plan in the process reform of the NHS. Over the past years, the NHS in England had to undergo several major improvements in health care service for patients…
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National Health Service Improvement Plan
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Download file to see previous pages The NHS Improvement Plan outlined the policy on empowering patients and we will be giving further details in due course. The Department of Health will support the development and application of decision aids that support patients and help them to make the right choices (Doctor, 25 October 2005). The idea was to have care needs rooted in primary care settings and underpinned by improved communication with new partnerships across the health and social care spectrums (Elliot, 19 August 2005).
However, the one clause of the NHS Improvement Plan 2004 had been a cause for debate. It indicated that private firms will be carrying out up to 15 per cent of all NHS operations. This will amount to one million every year. In 2004, they perform just 100,000. Thus, those NHS hospitals which fail to attract patients could be forced to close. This led to fears that communities could be left without a local trust. Private firms will also provide more diagnostic services such as MRI scans and radiotherapy services and will even be able to set up their own GP surgeries to treat NHS patients. The proposals drew sharp criticism from the Tories, who said Labour had already failed to meet many other pledges to improve the NHS. It had failed to end the postcode lottery for prescribing cancer drugs and is likely to have missed a target to provide an extra 7,500 consultants pledged. Liberal Democrat health spokesman Paul Burstow also attacked the Government's "tick-box culture". A spokesman for the Department of Health said the five-year plan was not a series of targets. Rather, it was "painting a picture of what the Health Service would be like in 2008".Health workers' union Unison welcomed plans to cut waiting lists but warned that reliance on the private sector would damage the NHS (The Daily Mail 25 June 2004, p. 19).
Moreover, British doctors condemned the government's initiative to increase patients' choice as failing to deliver real choice to patients. In their conference, the doctors voted overwhelmingly against the expansion of private treatment centres, which they said were draining resources from NHS hospitals. For instance, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in north London, proposed two motions at the BMA's annual representatives' conference in Llandudno questioning the value of the initiative and private treatment centres. He called the government's plan to give patients a choice of four or five centres in which to have their operation a "political gimmick" that failed to deliver what patients wanted from the health service. "What patients want is the NHS on their doorstep and more time with their GP," he said. "What is being offered by the government is a choice of where patients can have their operation. Patients do not get to choose their surgeon or what investigations or treatment they have." The promotion of choice for patients, as described by Prime Minister Blair, left unclear lines of clinical accountability if things went wrong, Dr Nagpaul said. It was also wasting NHS resources and contributing to the creeping privatisation of health care. His motion for the government's initiative to be piloted before national implementation was carried by the conference. However, Dr Nagpaul failed to win support for the British Medical Association (BMA) to directly oppose the government's plans. Doctors also raised concerns about private treatment centres. Dr Nagpaul said that because they were standalone units they could "cherry ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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