Editorials

Cash bonanza for NHS

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7239.883 (Published 01 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:883

The price is centralisation

  1. Rudolf Klein, senior associate,
  2. Jennifer Dixon, health policy analyst
  1. King's Fund, London W1M 0AN

    News p 889

    By any standards the government's decision to inject £19.4 bn into Britain's NHS over the next four years1 —an annual average growth of 6.1% in real terms—is generous. No doubt it is not quite as generous as it looks: there will be much wrangling over the small print. Similarly, it may not bring Britain up to the European Union average of spending on health care,2 but there never was any rationale for setting this arithmetic artefact as a target in the first place. But, even allowing for such reservations, the NHS appears set for a period of sustained growth at an unprecedented rate. The prime minister has nailed his personal standard to the mast of the NHS, and if the ship goes down, so will his political reputation. Therein lies the surest guarantee of the NHS's future but also the greatest danger to it. The guarantee lies in the fact that Mr Blair has every incentive to use his personal authority to make a success of the NHS. The danger is that the pressures to “modernise” the NHS within a timetable laid down by the political election cycle will not only prove counterproductive but lead to disillusion.

    The government's generosity …

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