» Friday, March 4, 2005

Health services

Asked how much of the reduction was down to improved health lifestyles, and how much was down to clinical treatment, the PMOS said he was not a medical expert and he would direct the journalist to the DoH for that sort of detailed analysis. What was appropriate, however, was to recognise the impact that Government investment had had in terms of the health service itself; there were nearly 19,000 extra doctors, nearly 8000 extra consultants, and 67,000 extra nurses. Statistics such as those would have made a major impact in bringing about improvements.

Put to him that the Prime Minister had said on Wednesday that what had happened to Mrs Dixon was "inexcusable" yet since then, there had been many excuses, and was it "inexcusable", the PMOS said the Prime Minister believed everyone should receive their health treatment as quickly as possible. He also believed that the health service had suffered from lack of investment over the years, and therefore a switch could not be flicked and suddenly everything would be improved. What was the case, however, was that improvements had been happening, and were taking place in the hospital where Mrs Dixon was to have her operation. The historic problems could not be ignored, and they had to be put right. The Government had never pretended that it had put them all right yet.

Asked if it was inexcusable, but people might have to live with things like this, the PMOS said it was a fact of life that doctors and nurses did have to juggle priorities. It was also a fact of life that they had more resources now than they did have to juggle those priorities.

Put to him that although there had been more money put into the health service independently, the actual money going through to the frontline services was lower than it was before by about 2 ½%, and the rest of the other 7 ½% was going into other frontline costs, the PMOS said that he was not sure what the breakdown of the figures was. He reminded journalists that as well as the extra doctors, nurses and consultants, there were also 1000 extra cancer consultants, and 1000 extra beds over the past 2 years, which was the first rise in decades. 24 Major hospitals had opened, and 97% of A&E departments were being modernised, and nearly 2000 GP’s surgery had been refurbished or replaced. The NHS Helpline had taken over half a million calls per month, and there were 43 walk-in centres had opened, with another 22 more coming this year. The PMS said that struck him as all being "pretty frontline services" and a reflection of the investment that was getting through to the frontline. People could not be treated at the frontline if there was not proper equipment and facilities for the hospitals.

Briefing took place at 11:00 | Search for related news

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