Obesity plan – step in the right direction or missed opportunity?

  • 18 August 2016
  • From the section Health
Measuring a child's waist Image copyright SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image caption Should the government have done more to combat childhood obesity?

Much of the response to the government's childhood obesity plan for England has been critical.

Even one of the big supermarket chains has suggested it does not go far enough.

One senior health source, though, made the point that if a year ago the government has said it would introduce a sugar levy and a product reformulation plan there would have been a positive reaction from campaigners.

It has to be said that one campaigning charity, the National Children's Bureau, argued that "now, at last, we have a plan for reducing obesity early in life".

Critical voices

But the overwhelming view of health think tanks, medical leaders, local government and charities is that the published plan is a missed opportunity.

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Private providers in the NHS - the debate reignites

  • 15 August 2016
  • From the section Health
Image copyright Thinkstock

It was much talked about in the run-up to the 2015 General Election and then it disappeared from the political radar screen. But the involvement of private companies in the national health service in England has been pushed back onto the agenda by Owen Smith as part of his bid for the Labour leadership.

Mr Smith said that a public NHS which was 100% publicly-funded was an "absolute red line". He alleged the Government and NHS leaders had "secret plans" to increase private provision and the amount spent on private healthcare companies had increased dramatically under the Conservatives. This could involve, for example, private hospitals carrying out routine surgery to help reduce waiting lists or private groups taking on community health contracts.

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Difficult headlines – more troubled times ahead for the NHS?

  • 12 August 2016
  • From the section Health
Emergency sign Image copyright Linda Steward

Restrictions on operations, an overnight closure of A&E, more missed targets and record numbers of patients unable to get discharged - it's been a week of difficult headlines for the NHS in England.

It has to be said that the moves by a Lancashire commissioning group to cancel routine surgery for four months and a Lincolnshire hospital trust to close a local A&E unit overnight were still subject to consultation. The Lancashire decision has since been reversed.

Read full article Difficult headlines – more troubled times ahead for the NHS?

Pressure intensifies on squeezed NHS

  • 5 August 2016
  • From the section Health
NHS hospital Image copyright 22kay22

There have been yet more reminders this week about the intense pressures on the NHS.

New drugs, treatments and therapies are coming on stream and patients understandably want them.

Read full article Pressure intensifies on squeezed NHS

Game-changing moment for the NHS in England?

  • 21 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Patient waiting on a hospital trolley Image copyright Purestock

In the final hours of the parliamentary session, there were some fascinating revelations about the state of NHS finances in England.

The Department of Health annual report confirmed how close it had come to breaking Whitehall rules, and there was an amber-light warning from the spending watchdog.

Read full article Game-changing moment for the NHS in England?

NHS boss sets out his stall for Theresa May

  • 19 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Hospital ward Image copyright PA

Not much has been heard from Simon Stevens since the referendum result. But now the head of NHS England has set out a detailed wish list for the re-configured Conservative government.

In a newspaper article and at a parliamentary hearing, he has given the new occupants of Numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street something to ponder before the start of the parliamentary recess.

Read full article NHS boss sets out his stall for Theresa May

NHS finances - back under intense scrutiny

  • 8 July 2016
  • From the section Health
Saving money in the NHS Image copyright Thinkstock

After prolonged debate during the referendum, Whitehall has been busy since polling day trying to work out the implications of Brexit - including how the NHS could be affected.

A period of uncertainty over political leadership after the announcement that David Cameron would quit has not made the mandarins' lives any easier. One familiar and important issue has bubbled up to the surface again - NHS finances.

Read full article NHS finances - back under intense scrutiny

What does Brexit mean for the NHS?

  • 24 June 2016
  • From the section Health
Obese man having his stomach measured Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption What does the referendum result mean for the long-awaited obesity strategy?

With Whitehall and Downing Street trying to get to grips with the referendum result, its impossible to get any sense of how the domestic agenda will develop.

In the period of government "purdah" during the campaign, the policy implementation machine had ground to a halt.

Read full article What does Brexit mean for the NHS?

MS: New therapy but a dilemma for patients

  • 10 June 2016
  • From the section Health
Multiple sclerosis in the body's cells Image copyright Science Photo Library

There has been a widespread welcome for news that a new therapy involving stem cell transplants has halted or reversed the symptoms of advanced multiple sclerosis in a small number of patients.

Scientists have hailed the new research in Canada as exciting and remarkable. But one patient died, and the decision on whether to have the treatment can be a difficult and costly one for MS patients.

Read full article MS: New therapy but a dilemma for patients

Generic prescription drugs: Are prices excessive?

  • 3 June 2016
  • From the section Health
Rows of pills Image copyright Science Photo Library

At a time when the NHS is trying to save every penny without undermining patient care, news has emerged that it is being over-charged in one area of its drugs bill.

This has led the trade body for major pharmaceutical companies, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), to condemn price rises by some small operators for prescription drugs as "cynical and exploitative".

Read full article Generic prescription drugs: Are prices excessive?