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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of NHS and healthcare stories.

ìVote for himî says Blair

Prime Minister Tony Blair has thrown down the gauntlet by challenging the electorate to vote for the Conservatives if they truly believe the NHS has got worse while he has been in power. The challenge follows Conservative leader, Michael Howard's issue, raised in the House of Commons last week, surrounding the care of NHS patient Margaret Dixon, who Howard claimed had her operation cancelled seven times. Blair argued that Howard used Dixon's distress for his ìruthless exploitationî. He added: ìIf you believe the NHS today is worse than it was when Mr Howard and the Conservatives ran it, don't vote for me. Vote for him.î

NICE to withdraw AZ drugs

Cholinesterase inhibitors used to treat Alzheimer's disease should not be available on the NHS, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) is expected to recommend. Although NICE cleared Aricept, Excelon and Reminyl for use through the NHS in 2001, it subsequently discovered that the drugs failed to improve sufferer's quality of life and were not cost-effective. A final decision on the review will be taken in July. Pharma and patient groups condemned NICE's findings.

Leaked MRSA memo

The government failed to act on advice from the chief medical officer to curb infection rates of MRSA, according to a leaked memo. The information, seen by the Daily Telegraph, revealed that Sir Liam Donaldson recommended a Healthcare Hygiene Act to ensure that hygiene standards were met in hospitals last year, yet this advice was reportedly never acted upon. Figures released today by the Department of Health revealed that MRSA infections for April-September 2004 had decreased by 6.3 per cent compared to the same period the year before.

GOS aims to break even

Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital is hoping to break even this financial year, despite predictions of a £1.7m deficit due to primary care trusts failing to provide extra funds. Hospital officials said that the deficit, which represents 1 per cent of the hospital's annual budget, was created because the hospital had treated 2 per cent more patients this year, amassing debts. All departments have been told to make savings and the hospital has already cancelled 44 half-day operating sessions.

30th September 2008

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