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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of the news in brief

Training budget cuts
The continued threat to medical education and training in England, thanks to the worsening financial crisis in the NHS, could jeopardise the quality of patient care, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned. Budgets previously set aside by Strategic Health Authorities for education and training are being slashed in order to meet deficits, according to the BMA. Targets for cuts include funding for junior doctors' study leave, which enables them to attend courses required for their training and academic posts in medical schools. In a letter to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt, the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee has called for funding to be restored, warning that patients will receive a lower standard of care if doctors do not have to training.

Few being offered choice
Despite the government's ongoing commitment to patient choice, only three in 10 people are being offered access to the scheme, a survey for the Department of Health has revealed. Since January 1, NHS patients have been allowed to choose between at least four local hospitals for an operation. However, a poll showed that in May and June the worst areas offered a choice for first appointments to just 20 per cent of patients. The Mori National Patient Choice Survey also found that just 29 per cent of 79,000 people polled were even aware they had a choice of hospital. Of those who were offered a choice, only 20 per cent were given the information booklet they should have received. Whether or not patients were given a choice was dependent on where they live. The best performing PCTs, where more than 60 per cent of patients were given a choice, were West Cumbria, Broxtowe and Hucknall in Nottinghamshire, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale in East Lancashire and North Devon. The worst performing PCTs, where less than 10 per cent of patients were offered a choice, were Hastings and St Leonards in East Sussex, Bradford City Teaching PCT and Southend-on-Sea in Essex.

30th September 2008

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