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Latest NHS review examines 'disappointing progress'

Since his 2002 report into future health trends, which recommended a boost to the NHS budget, Sir Derek Wanless said the results were "disappointing" and added that even more money should be spent to improve the service.

Since his 2002 report into future health trends, which recommended a boost to the NHS budget, Sir Derek Wanless said the results were "disappointing" and added that even more money should be spent to improve the service.

The first report was commissioned by then Chancellor Gordon Brown in 2001, who wanted an independent business figure to justify raising taxes to increase HNS spending. To create a world-class service, the NHS budget would have to increase from GBP 68bn a year to between GBP 154bn and GBP 184bn by 2022.

The latest five-year review shows that UK health spending is now GBP 113.5bn after an increase in the NHS budget of almost 50 per cent, which approximately matches the target set in 2002. As a result, there have been some improvements in performance, but the service remains far from being "world-class", says Wanless.

The lack of progress has been due to the fact that nearly nearly 50 per cent of the extra funding has been spent on significant pay rises and increased staff numbers, but has not evinced improvements in treatments.

While NHS patients are somewhat happier about the service, poor hygiene, reduced privacy and lack of personal attention are now the commonest complaints.

Compared with other EU countries, the NHS is funded to the tune of 9.3 per cent of UK GDP, so the country's health spending is above average in comparison with other countries, where the service quality is better.

Wanless recommends continuing to invest even more money because rising levels of obesity will add to service demands. He goes on to warn that productivity must increase and advises that the effects of the current reforms are yet to be seen.

Much of the new recommendations are aimed at streamlining administrative processes, however, and Wanless continues to stress that any spending cuts would be "dangerous" to public health.

Critics have said that the NHS needs a new report which brings the whole service, which was founded in the 1940s, up to date with recent developments in healthcare delivery.

Pay deal takes pressure off Brown
Around 450,000 NHS workers have voted to accept a pay offer of just over two per cent.

Members of the UK's largest public service trade union, Unison, voted three to one for the revised deal, which covers nurses, paramedics, healthcare assistants, cleaners, cooks, porters, administrative staff and therapists.

The pay increase will come into effect on 1 November 2007 and will take the pressure off Prime Minister Brown over threatened strikes slated for the end of 2007 and the beginning of next year.

The possible industrial actions were being discussed in a meeting on 13 September between unions and local government employers, with 800,000 staff involved in the ballot.

30th September 2008

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