Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Strong reform continues at health

The commitments on health in Gordon Brown's plans for the future are particularly strong and clear, with the promise to give patients
enforceable rights to high standards of care, including hospital treatment within 18 weeks, access to a cancer specialist within two weeks and free health-checks on the NHS for people aged 40 to 74.

The promise of a legal entitlement to healthcare within a defined period is an excellent reinforcement of a huge achievement of Labour's time in Government - the lower waiting times achieved by clear targets - and will cause a real headache for BMA/Tory spokesman Andrew Lansley, while giving patients real certainty and the chance to go private where the NHS fails to deliver.

Despite the sniping about money and the predictable criticisms from political opponents, the overall package is a welcome indication of life within the government. There are clear objectives that can be delivered in the coming year, and some dividing lines that have meaning. For them to have real effect, the government should be as candid about the public finances, even if the absence of a full spending review.

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