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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 16:45 GMT 17:45 UK
Extra NHS cash 'offers real hope'
The announcement of substantial investment in the NHS made in the Budget has been widely welcomed by patients and professionals.
They said the money offered "real hope", but had to make a real difference to the health service.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced, on average, an extra 7.4% every year for the next five years in real terms.
The money is likely to fund existing initiatives, rather than new developments in how the NHS works.
Mike Stone, chief executive of the Patients Association told BBC News Online: "We have to welcome the increase.
"But that increase really has to be used properly.
"It has to go to things that patients can actually see, in terms of improvements being brought about."
Mr Stone added that the proposed new independent inspection and auditing process, due to be detailed on Thursday by Health Secretary Alan Milburn was also welcome, as long as it was truly independent.
Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the British Medical Association said: "This programme of investment offers real hope to the people of the United Kingdom who depend on the NHS and to the million people working in it who want the NHS to succeed and want their efforts on behalf patients to bear fruit.
"We intend to play a full part on the programme of reform but we will continue to tell the full unvarnished truth about where change is needed and where doctors and nurses simply need to be allowed to get on with the job without the distraction of hoops, hurdles and targets."
Beverley Malone, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: "Sustained investment in the NHS is vital to improving services for patients."
Dame Karlene Davis, general secretary of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We welcome the significant investment in the NHS, but will judge the government on how the extra funding is spent and whether it reaches the frontline - to midwives providing services to women and families."
Royal College of Physicians president Professor Sir George Alberti welcomed the guaranteed future increases in NHS funding, which he said would allow innovation in the NHS, once there were enough staff and new buildings and equipment.
He added: "We strongly welcome the new independent audit and inspection of where the money is spent and hope for as much transparency as possible in this process.
"The resounding challenge now to all the professions is to make the NHS work and make it work quickly."
Royal College of General Practitioners chairman Professor David Haslam said: "Of course, increased investment is welcome but the money must be spent wisely to ensure that the workforce crisis is addressed in order to guarantee a consistently high standard of patient care.
"We invite the government to consult with the medical profession about how to invest in the NHS to ensure we can deliver a better public service."
Dr John Renshaw of the British Dental Association said: "The BDA is working with the government on plans to improve NHS dental services which if they are to succeed, must be properly backed through a fair share of funding from today's settlement."
Stuart Marples, chief executive of the Institute of the Health Management (IHM) said: "The kind of increases in funding now being promised are exceptional and in excess of the levels most managers will have experienced previously in their careers."
But he warned much of the money would go to existing spending commitments, and that investment in training doctors and nurses could take years to produce results.
"This implies a need a for patience from politicians and the public alike," he said.
Social care focus
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Dr Evan Harris said: "Extra money is all very well, but it needs to be spent efficiently so that it provides more staff, more useful equipment and extra capacity in the health system."
Rabbi Julia Neuberger, chief executive of the King's Fund said the NHS had suffered decades of under-investment.
She added: "General taxation remains the fairest and most efficient method of health care funding and the government is right to commit to it.
"But putting more funds into a reformed NHS will not be enough.
"As the Wanless report today showed, the health service will only be fit to serve twenty-first century Britain when the government also places sustained extra investment in social care services and makes a concerted effort to reduce health inequalities."
She welcomed the investment in social care, but said it still lagged behind the NHS.
Sir Paul Nurse, interim chief executive of Cancer Research UK, called for greater transparency so that funds intended for cancer services are spent on cancer services and not absorbed into NHS administration.
He said he was disappointed the government had decided against an above inflation rise in tobacco taxes.
"There is little use pumping money into the NHS if we going to fill the cancer and heart wards with smokers who have no price incentive to quit."
Action on Smoking and Health said it had hoped for money from tobacco prices channelled back to help smokers quit.
Clive Bates, director ASH, said: "We needed to hear a commitment to raise the actual prices paid by the smoker above the rate of inflation, and he had nothing to say about what he is trying to achieve with tobacco tax.
"We need high prices to create disincentives to smoke and to stop smoking being more affordable over time. When the price goes up, people quit or better still, younger people never start in the first place."
17 Apr 02 | Health
17 Apr 02 | Health
17 Apr 02 | Health
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