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Chair of the BMA Dr Ian Bogle
"Patients are not getting the service they deserve"
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NHS Confederation Chief Executive Steven Thornton
"A publicly funded health care system is the most efficient way to care for people"
 real 28k

The BBC's Karen Allen
"Doctors claim they are being blamed for problems caused by a lack of resources"
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Thursday, 9 December, 1999, 09:32 GMT
BMA launches review of NHS funding
doctor and elderly patient An ageing population is draining NHS resources


The British Medical Association (BMA) has announced a major review of healthcare funding in the UK.

Doctors, patients groups and politicians will be among those invited to contribute to the BMA's review - the first to be carried out by the organisation since the 1980s.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the BMA, said all options, including charging NHS patients, would be considered in the review.

bogle Dr Ian Bogle: nothing ruled out in review
It has been triggered by recent figures that show in England alone the NHS is 200m in debt - although the issue of how to sustain a publicly funded health service has been a source of debate for decades.

Doctors claim they are being blamed for problems caused by a lack of resources when they are facing greater pressures than ever before.

Dr Bogle told the BBC: "Realistically, we can't go on like this. Patients are not getting the service they deserve. Doctors are working harder and harder, the intensity of work is much greater.

"We need to look at all possibilities. We need to look at a comprehensive review of how we resource the health service, what the health service should provide and what the health service maybe should not provide."

Patient fees were, he said, "one of many options", but the review was starting with a "blank sheet of paper".


Realistically, we can't go on like this. Patients are not getting the service they deserve
Dr Ian Bogle
The medical profession fears that despite the 21bn the government is investing in the NHS, greater patient expectations will continue to drain resources.

The drugs bill is increasing at a rate of 9% per year. New technologies and an ageing population are likely to make that worse.

Dr Bogle highlighted the case of GP who had spent less than both the local and national average on drugs for his patients, only to be told by his health authority that he had overspent on his drugs budget.

He said pressure of work also meant that GPs had little time to spend with individual patients. At his Liverpool surgery it was common for patient consultations to last just three minutes at the end of morning surgery.

The BMA is also alarmed at allegations that seriously ill elderly patients are being denied food and water, partially because of intense pressure on NHS beds.

Difficult questions


I really don't think this is the time to give some credence to some potential funding solutions that might actually undermine the fundamental principles of the NHS
Stephen Thornton, chief executive, NHS Confederation
Although the government is committed to free healthcare from the cradle to the grave, this review is expected to force it to confront some difficult questions.

Dr Bogle added: "We might get some answers to questions that have been asked over the past decade."

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents NHS trusts and health authorities, admitted the NHS was going through a tough time.

But he said: "I really don't think this is the time to give some credence to some potential funding solutions that might actually undermine the fundamental principles of the NHS.

"It is there to provide free care to people regardless of people's ability to pay, and to meet everybody's reasonable needs."

Mr Thornton said public funding was the most cost efficient way to finance a healthcare system.

"We just need our government to fund our NHS to the same kind of level that health services receive in, say, France and Germany."
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See also:
03 Dec 99 |  Scotland
NHS funding re-think rejected
03 Dec 99 |  Health
Funding headache over new arthritis drug
29 Nov 99 |  Health
Aids prevention cut as drug costs spiral
09 Jun 99 |  Health
NHS debt threatens services

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