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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of nHS and healthcare stories.

Cancer services stifled by red tape

The £2bn that the government has invested in cancer services over the past five years has not provided good value for money, according to arguments from a think-tank comprising around 1,000 doctors. Reform argues in a report that red tape and bureaucracy have stifled cancer care's front-line services, such as x-ray and radiotherapy. ìA study in Glasgow showed a fifth of lung cancer patients become unsuitable for treatment during their wait for radiotherapyÖtherefore lives are being lost,î said Reform's director, Andrew Haldenby. He added that patients were being made to wait for long periods of time due to a ìlack of co-ordinationî in healthcare.

MPs will stand by choice risk

The government's much-hyped patient choice policy due to start at the end of this year - through which all NHS patients will be able to choose which hospital they would like to be treated at from a list of five - could result in the closure of unpopular hospitals. When asked if politicians are prepared to see hospitals close as a result of the policy, Health Secretary, John Reid, commented: ìThis politician is.î He added: ìPatients will decide on closureÖpatients want the best locally but if it's not there they can get it elsewhere which will make the provider at the end of the street improve its standards.î

Commission struggles with complaints backlog

The Healthcare Commission has called in a consultancy firm to help it deal with a massive backlog of some 4,000 patient complaints. The Commission revealed that Huntswood Outsourcing would help clear low-risk complaints in order to help tackle the backlog. A third of the complaints are for hospital care while 22 per cent relate to primary care practitioners, such as dentists and GPs, the Commission said.

Early eating disorder diagnosis unsatisfactory

GPs are failing to diagnose eating disorders quickly enough, the Eating Disorders Association (EDA) has argued. A report released by EDA found that 42 per cent of eating disorder patients thought access to early diagnosis was unsatisfactory and a further 19 per cent said there was room for improvement. The report comes one year after the National Institute for Clinical Excellence published guidelines setting out the standards for the treatment of eating disorders in the NHS.

30th September 2008

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