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Monday, 7 May, 2001, 11:19 GMT 12:19 UK
The state of the UK's health services
Richard Hannaford on health issues
The BBC's health correspondent Richard Hannaford explains the main issues facing the health providers and the politicians as the election campaign begins.

Standards

A number of shocking scandals involving incompetent medics, combined with a less acquiescent attitude from patients, has focused attention on standards of patient service within the health service. In future all health care professionals will have to prove they're up to the job. In time every doctor will have to undergo a form of MOT - with summaries of their performances published for patients to see.

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Funding

Years of under investment has left many parts of the National Health Service in a pretty tatty state. Millions need to be spent on refurbishing old buildings, replacing old equipment and providing more beds. But the major task for the new government will be countering critical staff shortages which are occurring at every level of the health service.

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Waiting Lists

Recent years have seen a shift in emphasis from cutting the size of waiting lists to cutting waiting times. Most experts will agree that it doesn't matter how many people are in the queue - as long as they move through the system quickly. But has enough been done to reduce waiting lists?

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Private Healthcare

More and more people are turning to private health providers for their care. The length of NHS waiting lists have forced people to pay for their treatment. The worry is that a two tier system of health care is being created, those who can afford to pay and those who can't.

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