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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round of NHS and healthcare stories

More choice in the NHS?

A recent Department of Health poll suggests that people in England are unaware that they have more choice on where to get NHS treatment.

Since January 1, patients have been allowed to choose between four hospitals or clinics for non-emergency treatment. However, a recent poll of over-40s found that 80 per cent knew little or nothing about the changes.

The reforms were created by ministers who believe that patients want more choice, will travel for it and would be keen to find out about it. However, healthcare professionals fear that the vulnerable in particular will miss out.

Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, refused to accept that choice was being wasted. She told the BBC: ìWe found the majority [of people] welcome being offered a choice and use that choice.î

NHS warned about outsourcing to private firms

The NHS Audit Commission has warned that NHS work that is outsourced to private firms must be monitored to prevent damage to other hospital services.

James Strachan, the departing chairman of the commission, warned that someone within the NHS needs to take responsibility for the bigger picture concerning the break up of NHS services.

He stated that the pace of change is `probably' too fast and argued that it is `nonsense' for anyone to claim that the public sector cannot be as cost effective as private firms.

Mental health treatment needs an overhaul

Leading health and social care groups have called for radical changes to England's mental health services.

In a report published by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health, leading figures called for mental health education in the school curriculum by 2015, as well as a demand to focus on mental well-being and users' needs.

Local Government Association mental health spokesperson, David Rogers, said that one in four people suffer mental health problems. He told the BBC: ìIt is vital that we challenge the stigma surrounding this issue and create a climate which encourages tolerance, understanding and timely treatment.î

30th September 2008

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