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Archive for January, 2007

Brown may have to seek £10bn extra tax, says IFS

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

The Times reports that Gordon Brown may have to raise taxes by £10 billion and slash another £10 billion from public spending to meet his fiscal rules over the next five years, according to an independent think-tank report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). The report casts doubt on the strength of the legacy that the Chancellor will leave if he moves to No 10 as expected this summer. It argues that the improvements in the public finances over the past decade are less impressive than than those of most of Britain’s economic rivals. It also estimates that tax revenues have risen over that period by the equivalent of £1,300 a family.

Tories: Hague calls for closer Asia links

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Britain must forge closer links with the countries of Asia and the Middle East, shadow foreign secretary William Hague will tell a thinktank. While stressing that the US remains “our indispensable ally”, Mr Hague will argue that more of the UK’s “political weight” should be shifted towards developing links with emerging global economic and political powers such as China and India. And he will call for a “concerted national effort” to develop closer ties with friendly states in the Middle East and North Africa to help counter the threat of international Islamist terrorism and resolve tensions in the region.

Growing fears over deadly hospital bugs

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

The deadly Clostridium difficile hospital bug is on the rise, while MRSA superbug rates are falling too slowly to meet government targets. The Health Protection Agency figures show the C difficile rate rose by 5.5% in England during the first three quarters of 2006 to 42,625. The MRSA rate fell by 5% to 3,391, but if trends continue the target of halving cases by 2008 will be missed. HPA officials said there was still much to be done to get a grip on the bugs.

PRimage comment

This is an increasingly serious problem, which PRimage believes needs to be given top priority by health officials and the department of health to resolve!

Calls for mental health emphasis in primary care

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Policy makers should ensure opportunities to improve mental health in primary care are always considered, according to a report by the Mental Health Foundation and the Pharmaceutical Schizophrenia Initiative. The report Primary Concerns: A better deal for mental health in primary care says practice-based commissioning needs to be extended to primary care, with relevant commissioning training for GPs and other staff.

Claims that BMA team ‘stunned by GP contract’

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

According to an interview for BBC Radio 4′s The Investigation, which will be aired on 1 February, Dr Simon Fradd said doctors GPs were so stunned by the terms offered to them when negotiating their new contract that they thought it was a “bit of a laugh”. He said they had never believed the government would be willing to allow them to opt out of out-of-hours care. He went on to say they were shocked by the approach taken by the government. They could not believe it when GPs were given the chance not to do evening and weekend work for a 6% pay cut. Dr Fradd was part of the negotiating team representing the British Medical Association during the two years of talks between 2001 and 2003, although he is no longer on the BMA’s GP committee.

Since the deal started in 2004, average GP pay has topped the £100,000 barrier. While doctors now make less in basic pay – about £55,000 on average – they have been able to top-up their earnings by hitting targets under a performance-related bonus scheme. Opponents have often criticised the government, claiming they mishandled the contract, which is now contributing to NHS deficits. Earlier this month, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt admitted she wished the government had capped the profits doctors could take out of the practices because of the soaring sums.

PRimage comment

Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team will listen to this interview with great interest!  The problems over out of hours care have been enormous – and criticism over the Government’s handling of the GP contract is justified. 

Dentists and pharmacists have experienced obtacles and impasse situations when negotiating their contracts with the DH and Government – and yet it is the medics who have succesfully got the best deal for themselves and also achieved national publicity on their issues and concerns!    PRimage believe that it is patients who ultimately suffer – and we agree that the current sagas over NHS deficits have been caused, in part, by the Government’s track record of mishandling the GP contract.  In light of the financial problems within the NHS, it is surely wrong that the average GP pay is topping £100K – do you agree?

Cameron crusade for Muslim women

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Tory leader David Cameron is to issue a call for an end to the oppression of Muslim women who are prevented from going out to work or attending university. In a keynote speech on social cohesion, he will warn that difficult issues must not be avoided by hiding behind “a screen of cultural sensitivity”. But even before he spoke, Mr Cameron was under fire from some Muslims after he used a newspaper article linked to the speech to call for a new “crusade for fairness”.

PRimage comment

Judy Viitanen, PRimage MD, applauds David Cameron for speaking out on this.  Do you?  As a fomer school governor and district councillor, she shares Cameron’s views on social cohesion – and feels very strongly that all pupils should be given a fair and equal opportunity to develop their skills.

No surprise that confidence in Tony Blair slumps to all-time low!

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Public confidence in Tony Blair’s government has slumped to an all-time low the latest YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph shows today, which shows that only 21 per cent of voters “approve of the government’s record to date” – the lowest since Mr Blair came to power. In January 1998, for instance, the comparable figure was 53 per cent.Only 26 per cent of voters say they are “satisfied” with Mr Blair as Prime Minister, compared with 66 per cent in early 1998.

PRimage comment

We’d be interested to see more research findings on the public’s rating of Blair’s handling on public services, especially the NHS!

Call to reform NHS charge system and ‘make patients pay for routine ops’

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Most NHS prescription charges in England should be scrapped and applied to ‘ineffective treatments’ instead, and NHS patients should contribute towards the cost of some routine operations, a body of leading public health experts have said. The Association of Directors of Public Health believes people should help pay for certain types of non-emergency surgery on the NHS including tonsil removal and hysterectomies. The association argues that the idea is not so radical as some NHS patients already pay for dental work and prescriptions.

The British Medical Association is currently drawing up proposals about what the NHS should be providing and will discuss the issue at its annual conference later in the year. Jonathan Fielden, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said it was an important debate. But Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund health think tank, said: “I do not buy into these doomsday scenarios. How much extra demand is there going to be on the NHS?

PRimage comment

With the NHS finances in meltdown and continuing concerns about waiting lists, this is clearly an important issue – and one that needs full and robust debate. Judy Viitanen and the PRimage team agree that there needs to be a fundamental review of the current NHS charging system for prescription costs, in light of the recent announcements of free prescriptions in Wales.

As a specialist healthcare PR and lobbying consultancy, PRimage will follow this debate very closely.   What are your views on this?  Surely the fundamental point of the NHS being free at the point of delivery needs to be in pole position during any debate or decision making on the future of NHS funding and services?  We want to hear your opinion!

Health 2007 -’Faith healers’ a healthcare option for many!

Friday, January 26th, 2007

More than half of people would turn to therapists such as faith healers rather than endure long NHS waiting lists, according to a new poll.  Seven out of 10 people questioned could name a paranormal expert, compared with one in 10 who could name a nationally acclaimed doctor.

PRimage comment

As a specialist healthcare PR agency PRimage was naturally interested and intruiged by this research finding!  What does this tell us about the public’s perception of the current situation with the NHS? 

Has the meltdown in UK NHS healthcare provision and the inquity of long NHS waiting lists reached such a crisis level that people with health problems would seriously opt to consult a faith healer rather than endure the anxiety of going onto an NHS waiting list for referall to a conventional medical expert?

PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, believes that NHS officials and government health ministers should be concerned at these findings!  And the medical profession should be equally concerned at the public’s low awareness of ‘nationally acclaimed doctors’!

What’s your reaction to this survey?  Have you ever considered seeing a faith healer to deal with a health problem – and if so, why?  The PRimage team would love to hear your views.

Watchdog seeks people involved in learning disabilities

Friday, January 26th, 2007

The Healthcare Commission is seeking people with learning disabilities, family members, carers and other workers in the sector to take part in what will be the largest audit of learning disability services ever done in England. Up to 200 services will be inspected and data will be collected from more than 600 services throughout England.

PRimage comment

Managing Director, Judy Viitanen, believes this is a very important initiative, which should have positive outcomes.  As a specialist healthcare communications agency, PRimage applauld the Healthcare Commission for instigating this audit of learning disability services – and would urge anyone who feels that could make a contribution to get involved.

Judy was a school governor and has had some experience in dealing with children’s learning disabilities – and so she plans to contact the Healthcare Commission.