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NHS news in brief

Our weekly round-up of news in brief

Brown NHS proposals attacked
Critics have turned on Chancellor Gordon Brown's proposals to devolve day to day control of the NHS to an independent board, should he become prime minister. British Medical Association (BMA) chairman, James Johnson, warned that the proposals do not address the current problems facing the health service. ìIf you hand the detail over to somebody else but leave the strategy with politicians, it will do nothing to remove the current criticisms of the direction in which the government is taking the NHS,î he said. ìIt is the strategy which needs to be at arm's length.î Shadow health secretary, Andrew Lansley said the plans show Brown is turning to the Tories for policy direction, while Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Steve Webb, questioned whether a new independent board would be accountable to central government or to British citizens.

Second NHS walk-out
Hundreds of NHS Logistics workers are set to stage a second 24-hour strike in protest at the government's decision to outsource logistics work to a private German firm, the logistics and courier group, DHL. At the time of going to press, a strike was scheduled for 11pm, Tuesday September 26, forcing the Department of Health to introduce contingency plans. Dave Prentis, general secretary of the largest NHS union, Unison, said distribution centres would close, jobs would be lost, buildings sold off and the service would get worse when DHL takes over the contract on October 1. NHS Logistics buys and distributes almost half of the NHS' non-pharmaceutical supplies on behalf of health professionals and a strike would cause widespread disruption in hospitals and surgeries across the country.

NHS faces brain drain, warns BMA
An intensity of competition for places on junior doctors' training programmes will create an NHS ìbrain drainî, according to the British Medical Association (BMA). In a survey of 573 members, more than half (55.3 per cent) said they would consider going overseas and over four in ten (42 per cent) would consider leaving medicine altogether if they were unable to find a training post. The BMA has launched a `Train not drain' campaign renewing its call on the government to delay the reforms by a year so extra training posts can be created. ìMedical training does need to be reformed, but not at the price of an exodus from the NHS,î said Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee.

30th September 2008

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