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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round of NHS and healthcare stories
Schering turns down Merck offer
Von Eschenbach in running for permanent FDA job
NHS trusts to face tougher ratings tests
Pharma news in brief
R&D news in brief
Foundation trusts' finances in good hands
NHS foundation trusts have shown strong financial performance between March and December 2005, according to trust regulator, Monitor. According to the body's new report, the 32 foundation trusts had an aggregate deficit of £9m on total income of £5,000m. Excluding the performance of one trust (University College London Hospitals), the remaining 31 trusts generated a £20m surplus, well ahead of their planned position of an £11m surplus. ìIt is now two years since the first NHS foundation trusts were established,î said Monitor chairman, William Moyes. ìTheir financial performance in aggregate is strong. This is not simply a case of the best-performing NHS organisations meeting expectations.î

HC seeks views on health check
The Healthcare Commission is seeking consultation on plans for the new Annual Health Check, the system designed to measure NHS trusts' performance. ìThe Annual Health Check needs to drive improvement as well as measure whether trusts are getting the basics right,î said Healthcare Commission chief executive, Anna Walker. ìCompliance with core standards is crucial for patients. But we also want to promote further improvements in health and healthcare by stretching the highest performers.î The Annual Health Check, launched in April 2005, introduced a risk-based approach to regulation.

Prescription charge increase
The government has announced a 15p increase in the prescription charge in line with inflation, with the charge for a single prescription item rising to £6.65 on April 1 2006. Meanwhile, the cost of prescription prepayment certificates will increase by the same amount as last year to £34.65 for four months or £95.30 for 12 months. ìFor the eighth consecutive year we have held the increase to below or around the level of inflation,î said health minister, Jane Kennedy. ìThis is a modest increase, which will help maintain the contribution that charges make towards the cost of the NHS. The extensive exemption arrangements we have in place mean that, in England, 87 per cent of prescription items are dispensed free of charge.î

30th September 2008


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