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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round up of NHS and healthcare stories.

Conservatives reveal NHS plans

The Conservatives would be able to provide 21 per cent more funding for the NHS by 2008, shadow chancellor, Oliver Letwin has claimed. Revealing the party's spending plans if it were elected into power, Letwin noted that the Tories would be able to offer tax cuts of £4bn by axing public bodies such as strategic health authorities and other government units. Within three years the total health budget would increase to £107bn, he said.

NHS targets cause MRSA

Increases in government NHS targets have led to a rise in the number of MRSA cases, according to shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley. Speaking to the BBC, he argued that hospitals were being told to ìpush patients through bedsî instead of focusing on hygiene. Secretary of State for Health, John Reid, dismissed the claims, arguing that increases in contract cleaners while the Conservatives were in power had led to a 700 per cent increase in hospital infections.

GPs should ask about cannabis use

GPs should ask younger patients whether they use cannabis, according to the head of the Royal College of GPs drug misuse unit, Dr Clare Gerada, who warned that the drug was ìmore popular than cigarettesî and that higher potencies were ìmore widely available than ever beforeî. Heavy use of cannabis can lead to an increased risk of psychosis and respiratory conditions, she noted. The UK has the highest cannabis use in Europe among teenagers, with two in five 15 year olds admitting to having tried the drug.

Waiting times criticised

The Welsh Assembly has not produced a clear strategy to reduce hospital waiting times, a damning report has concluded. The report, written by the auditor general for Wales, revealed that initiatives have not only resulted in no sustainable reduction in waiting times but also that targets were not consistent. The Welsh Assembly, however, claims that hospital waiting times have decreased since October last year.

Health record questioned

Scottish ministers are working hard to improve the health of the country following claims that Scotland's health record is the worst in the UK. Figures have revealed that the life expectancy for a woman living in Scotland is the lowest in the European Union, while a man's life expectancy is the second lowest. Ministers have vowed to continue efforts to reduce waiting times and in November proposed a smoking ban in public places.

30th September 2008

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