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Nick Triggle

Nick Triggle Health correspondent

This is my take on the issues affecting the NHS and social care, from the way we live our lives to the impact of government policies

What is the NHS there for?

10 September 2014
Question mark

The argument that dementia patients are getting a poor deal goes to the heart of the debate about what the NHS is there for.

When the NHS was created in 1948, the focus was on protecting people from infectious diseases. Now - with people living longer - it is increasingly about helping patients manage illness.

There are an estimated 15m people in England in this situation. They have been diagnosed with long-term, incurable conditions, such as dementia.

But there is a limit to how far health service resources will stretch to support them - already an estimated 70% of the budget is spent on caring for these patients.

The result is that many patients are finding their needs classed as social care, which is the responsibility of councils. But that is a means-tested system - which results in only the least well-off getting help - and, increasingly, being rationed to those with the most severe needs anyway.

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E-cigarettes: Debate - and confusion - is natural

5 September 2014
Man smoking electronic cigarette

It can be hard to know quite what to make of e-cigarettes.

Last week the World Health Organization called for a ban on their use in public places and workplaces. The group said it was concerned about the risk which use of the products presented and about their marketing via fruit and candy-style flavours.

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Failing GPs: A Pandora's Box?

14 August 2014
Stethoscope

There are nearly 8,000 GP practices in England, employing more than 35,000 doctors.

But despite the NHS being perhaps the most information-rich health system in the world, we have little clue which are good and which are bad.

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Cancer drugs row: A sign of things to come?

8 August 2014
Breast cancer cell
Breast cancer cells dividing

There is a real sense of sadness - and anger for that matter - that the new breast cancer drug Kadcyla looks unlikely to be made routinely available on the NHS, something that is obvious from the bitter language being used by both sides.

The decision by England's official NHS advisory body, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), to reject Kadcyla prompted manufacturers Roche to claim the system was "broken".

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NHS waits: Getting the excuses in early?

4 August 2014
Inside an operating theatre

The devil - as always - is in the detail.

The pledge by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to end year-long waits for routine treatment seems to make perfect sense.

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The secret to transforming a failing hospital

Basildon Hospital maternity unit
Babies who have been born in the hospital's maternity unit

Each morning the staff of Basildon University Hospital gather in the canteen to discuss the pressing issues of the day.

It is open to anyone and on the morning I was there there were about 40 people attending - a combination of doctors, nurses, admin staff and managers. The key discussion was around a lack of available beds.

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Failing hospitals: Is the glass half-full or half-empty?

Jug of water

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's glass was certainly half-full when he gave an update on Wednesday on how the special measures regime for failing hospitals has worked out.

A year to the day since the first 11 were placed in the failure regime, he said he was encouraged hospitals were on the "road to recovery".

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How many nurses short is the NHS?

Nurses

Publication of the new guidelines for safe nurse staffing levels on wards marks a key moment for the way hospitals are run.

While the recommendations from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence do not set an absolute minimum, wards in England are being encouraged not to go above a ratio of one nurse to eight patients.

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The NHS budget: Five things we've learned

The NHS budget is under the microscope like never before. The coalition may have protected it, but that has not stopped problems mounting.

Earlier this week a host of medical organisations wrote a letter to The Times warning the NHS was "creaking at the seams".

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Should the NHS be more like the phone industry?

Mobile phones

The pace of change in the telecommunications industry has been phenomenal.

From telephone exchanges to landlines in every home and - in the past 20 years or so - the advent of mobile phones and now smartphones, the way we communicate with each other has come a long way.

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About Nick

Nick started working for the BBC in 2003. His first two years were spent in general news, after which he started covering the health beat.

As health correspondent, he has reported extensively on the NHS and social care as well as how the UK is dealing with challenges such as obesity, the ageing population and health inequalities. Nick has also worked on the Gerry Robinson TV documentaries on the NHS.

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