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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round up of NHS and healthcare stories.

NHS reforms scaled back

The government has scaled back its NHS reform ìpayment by resultsî plans to cover only 30 per cent of hospitals services, it has been revealed. The reforms, which will be implemented in April this year, were expected to cover 70 per cent of hospital services, but health minister, John Hutton, clarified that the system would only apply to waiting list operations. Yet he stressed: ìThis is not going soft on reform. ìWe are sticking by the timetable to have almost everything covered by 2008-2009.î

Retirement plans unacceptable

Plans to increase the age of retirement amongst NHS employees from 60 to 65 are unacceptable, according to trade union, Unison. Proposals have been tabled to raise the retirement age in order to bring NHS staff in line with the government's recommendations for public sector staff to remain in work longer. Yet Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, claimed: ìForcing staff to work longer will simply raise the level of ill-health retirements and end up costing the NHS more.î

Treatment centres 'risk stability'

Specialised surgical treatment centres, including privately-run operations, pose a risk to the stability of NHS hospitals, two leading organisations have argued. The British Medical Association and the NHS Confederation both warned that the centres, which supposedly are able to operate almost eight times faster than traditional NHS services, ìdestabilise NHS hospitalsî and ìthreaten the viability of servicesî. However, Health Secretary, John Reid, dismissed the claims, arguing that the centres have contributed a ìmassiveî cut in waiting lists.

Chairman sacked

The independent regulator of Foundation trusts, Monitor, has sacked John Ryan, chairman of troubled Bradford Teaching Hospitals, for not producing a credible recovery strategy after independent accountants, sent in by Monitor to investigate the trust's finances, discovered a loss of £11.3m. Peter Garland, former NHS regional director, has been appointed interim chairman to try to help the trust recover.

Cleanliness standards 'acceptable'

Half of NHS hospitals are rated as merely 'acceptable' in cleanliness, according to official statistics. The latest results of local inspection revealed that only one in ten hospitals achieved the highest 'excellent' rating, with a further 456 achieving 'good' standards of cleanliness. However, three hospitals were rated as 'unacceptable' while 24 were regarded as 'poor'. ìWe want to see a lot more in the good and excellent categories,î health minister Lord Warner said.

30th September 2008

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