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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
The man with the plan
Alan Milburn - head out of parapet
The programme was broadcast at 2000BST on Sunday, July 21 on BBC Two

Alan Milburn has one of the toughest jobs in government: transforming the 1948 model of the National Health Service into a 21st century service that matches high public expectations within today's demanding consumer society.

He doesn't underestimate the challenge and is willing to stick his neck out when challenged by voters, saying: 'You've got an option, cause you can kick us out. If we don't deliver the goods, fair enough, kick us out!'

However it is a massive undertaking. Employing 1.1 million people, the NHS is the biggest employer in Europe and the real test of the Government's ambitions will be on the frontline of the service.

In this programme we follow Milburn's journey from the launch of the Government's ten-year NHS Plan in July 2000 to this year's Budget.

Priorities

With unique access to Whitehall, we see the thinking behind this decision - as ministers realise they need to better account to the public for how the money's spent.

Combating cancer is one of the government's top priorities, and prostate cancer is set to be the second biggest killer of men in the UK.

We also follow the frustrations and triumphs of modernisation through the eyes of leading prostate cancer specialist, Mark Emberton, who holds a busy outpatients clinic at University College London Hospitals every week.

He said: "You couldn't run a credible business like this". He thinks his ambitions to improve things for patients are at times frustrated by circumstances beyond his control.

Meanwhile the Head of Modernisation at UCLH, Nicola Chandler is trying to re-design the whole A&E system.

She said: "What we need to do is to put the patients first and deliver a service that's better for them and convenient to them.'

Narrator: Greta Scacchi
Producers: Jess Atkinson and Alison Cahn
Produced and Directed by Joanna Bartholomew
Editor: Anne Tyerman

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