The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) told journalists that the number of patients waiting for an operation had fallen by 4000 between April and May. The year on year figure was down 42,000 and the drop since 1997 was 373,000.
Asked for further details of the alcohol consumption and misuse statistics, the PMOS said that the Government was working with the drinks industry, police and health professionals to increase awareness of the dangers of excessive drinking and make the sensible drinking message easier to understand. That was the central focus of our alcohol harm reduction strategy. The Department of Health were working closely with the Home Office on this and people should talk to both those departments for further detail.
Asked to comment on the story in the Times and Guardian concerning the increase in the involvement of the private sector in the NHS, the PMOS said that Lord Warner had made it clear that this was not a change in policy in any way. What they were looking to do was get PCTs the sort of expert help which would allow PCTs to deliver services rather than the other way round. That was entirely in keeping with getting the NHS the extra help it needed to deliver services to patients as effectively as possible. There was no change in the ability of PCTs to deliver clinical services and that was the important point.
Asked if the Government believed that there would be something wrong in principle with private companies delivering health services if that service was given free at the point of need, the PMOS said that in terms of the role of the private sector people need only look at independent treatment centres, which were set up for a specific purpose and have delivered real improvements in cutting waiting lists. You just had to look at the latest figures on that published today. In terms of the policy nothing had changed, as the Department of Health made clear. Asked if the Government would allow the role of the private sector to go beyond 15% of services, the PMOS said that the policy remained as it was, he would not get into hypotheticals. Asked if private sector organisations would have the opportunity to bid for 75% of PCT budgets, the PMOS said that the policy remained unchanged. He wasn’t going to get into speculation about what may or may not happen down the road. Asked for the background of the 15% figure, the PMOS said that tempting as it was on a nice Friday morning to open a discussion about the status of figures and so on the important thing was that policy remained unchanged and that was all he had to say about it.
Briefing took place at 6:00 | Search for related news
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