Why 2020 will be a crucial year for the NHS

  • 29 December 2019
  • From the section Health
Hospital operation Image copyright stockvisual

The new government is prioritising the NHS - that was made abundantly clear in the Queen's Speech unveiled the week before Christmas.

Promises have been made on everything from money to staffing.

So 2020 looks set to be a crucial year as ministers seek to meet the challenges facing the health service in England head-on.

But what are the most pressing issues for the Westminster Parliament to address in the year ahead?

Reducing waiting times

Health is devolved, meaning the Department of Health and Social Care does not control health policy in the rest of the UK, although Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be watching closely to see what it does.

Read full article Why 2020 will be a crucial year for the NHS

Why NHS is front and centre of Queen's Speech

  • 19 December 2019
  • From the section Health

The government has put the NHS front and centre of the Queen's speech.

That is understandable. Behind-the-scenes ministers and advisers are saying that to keep hold of the voters that backed them at last week's general election there has to be an improvement in NHS performance in England.

Read full article Why NHS is front and centre of Queen's Speech

General election 2019: What do promises on the NHS really mean?

  • 3 December 2019
  • From the section Health
Stock photo of a consultant and two nurses in a hospital Image copyright EPA

The NHS has been one of the key focuses of the election campaign with the political parties battling it out to be seen as champions of the health service.

This should come as no surprise.

Read full article General election 2019: What do promises on the NHS really mean?

Why aren't we living longer?

  • 4 October 2019
  • From the section Health
Image of a woman both young and old Image copyright Yuri_Arcurs/Getty

For the best part of two centuries people's life expectancy has been improving at a pretty rapid and consistent rate.

In the 1840s people did not live much past 40 on average. But then improvements in nutrition, hygiene, housing and sanitation during the Victorian period meant by the early 1900s life expectancy was approaching 60.

Read full article Why aren't we living longer?

Social care: Is free personal care the answer?

  • 23 September 2019
  • From the section Health
Woman helping elderly person Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Social-care workers offer a vital service

Political parties have been talking about reforming social care for the past 20 years, amid claims the system is in crisis, with services stretched and thousands of people having to sell their homes to fund care.

Tony Blair came to power in 1997 promising to look at it - and since then, countless ideas have been put forward by all the parties.

Read full article Social care: Is free personal care the answer?

Spending plan: What it means for health and care

  • 4 September 2019
  • From the section Health
Stock photo of a consultant and two nurses in a hospital Image copyright EPA

In terms of health and care, there were two eye-catching numbers in the chancellor's spending announcement - £6.2bn extra for the NHS and £1.5bn for social care in England - but neither is quite what it seems.

The £6.2bn refers to the extra cash the front line of the NHS will receive next year as part of the five-year settlement announced a year ago by then Prime Minister Theresa May. And it takes the total available to NHS England, to pay for services from hospital care to GP practices and ambulance crews, to nearly £130bn.

Read full article Spending plan: What it means for health and care

Is NHS buildings boost all it seems?

  • 5 August 2019
  • From the section Health
NHS construction site Image copyright Alamy

It was clear as soon as Boris Johnson became prime minister that he wanted to do something to boost spending on NHS buildings.

In his very first speech he made reference to 20 new hospital upgrades in England.

Read full article Is NHS buildings boost all it seems?

'Pigswill. Slop. Not fit for dogs.' Is hospital food that bad?

  • 20 June 2019
  • From the section Health
Hospital food Image copyright Getty Images

Pigswill, slop and not fit for dogs. These are just some of the comments the Campaign for Better Hospital Food has received over the years from patients to describe the meals served up in hospitals.

It goes to show how bad a reputation hospital food has - and news that pre-packaged sandwiches and salads may have given patients listeria has just reinforced those impressions.

Read full article 'Pigswill. Slop. Not fit for dogs.' Is hospital food that bad?

The best and the rest - what we've learned from the NHS Tracker

  • 15 June 2019
  • From the section Health
Hospital operation Image copyright stockvisual

The BBC launched its NHS Tracker nearly two years ago. It was the biggest data project of its kind that we had ever done.

Since then, it has been providing the public with up-to-date information about waiting times for accident and emergency units, cancer and routine operations wherever they live in the UK - as well as providing us with insight for news coverage of the health service. Last year, it was expanded to include mental health therapy.

Read full article The best and the rest - what we've learned from the NHS Tracker

Is it time to treat sugar like smoking?

  • 4 June 2019
  • From the section Health
white chocolate

Over the past decade, smoking has become marginalised and stigmatised.

From the smoking ban in 2007 to the introduction of plain packaging a decade later, everything has been done to discourage people from taking up the habit.

Read full article Is it time to treat sugar like smoking?