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BBC's Carole Walker reports
"The Prime Minister admitted there were failings in the NHS"
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Prime Minister, Tony Blair
"There are fundamental problems that we need to address"
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BBC's Laura Trevelyan talks to Radio 4
"He did indicate that there would be more extra money for the Health Service"
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Sunday, 16 January, 2000, 13:41 GMT
Cool reception for Blair's NHS pledge

Health workers say the crisis is biting now

Tony Blair's pledge to channel more cash into the NHS has been given a lukewarm response from organisations representing patients and health workers.

Dr Ian Bogle, chairman of the British Medical Association Council

"The prime minister referred to the 10,000 calls being taken every day by NHS Direct, but failed to recognise the far greater number of patient consultations being undertaken every day by GPs and hospital doctors who are working under such enormous pressure.

"It is because of the dedication of those working in the NHS that the service will carry on struggling to cope.

"What Mr Blair has done today is to hold out the promise of extra resources in the long term. That, however, is entirely dependent on the future health of the economy.

"That is why the BMA believes it is now time to undertake a wide-ranging review of what the public expects from the NHS and how this can be resourced."

Royal College of Nursing general secretary Christine Hancock

"The Royal College of Nursing has argued strongly for the modernisation of the NHS.

"We need to tackle the essentials of care - feeding, privacy and the dignity of patients right now. We are particularly anxious that these short term problems are dealt with quickly, particularly for vulnerable and frail patients.

"We must make sure that we have got enough of the right nurses with the right experience to give the best patient care.

"We are looking to see a real reward for those experienced nurses who have been keeping the NHS going."

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation

"It is very good to see the Prime Minister taking such a personal interest in the troubles of the NHS.

"I was very encouraged to hear him talking about the willingness on the part of Government to increase funding to the level in other European countries.

"But I was disappointed that was still some time off and is so closely linked to economic growth.

"I also doubt very much whether under the present circumstances we are really going to be able to make such substantial inroads into reducing the number of people waiting for out-patient appointments.

"We have still got quite a struggle on our hands to continue to reduce the number of people waiting for in-patient treatment."

Geoff Martin, campaigns director of London Health Emergency, the NHS pressure group

"The problem is that Mr Blair is talking in the long term. The crisis in the health service is biting right now.

"I think that what is required is an emergency package of measures to try to take some of the pressure off the NHS. He needs to talk to people providing the services at the sharp end - the doctors and nurses and the rest of the health care team."

Dave Prentis, Unison deputy general secretary

"The Prime Minister has completely missed the point about the NHS beds crisis.

"What we have seen this winter is just the start - it won't go away just by ordering extra critical care beds.

"Over the next three to five years there will be a 30% cut in hospitals beds under the new Private Finance Initiative hospitals that the prime minister is relying on.

"It is no good putting extra money into the health service if it is being drained away by private contractors who are taking 18 to 20% returns on their capital - huge profits - to build these PFI hospitals. The money needs to go into patient care, not private contractors' pockets.

"The only way in which we can overcome the problems of the NHS is if the government recognises it has to have a fundamental review of how it funds the NHS."

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See also:
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Blair pledges health cash boost
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