Editorials

The NHS plan

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.321.7257.315 (Published 05 August 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:315

As good as it gets—make the most of it

  1. Jennifer Dixon, director,
  2. Steve Dewar, fellow
  1. Health Care Policy Programme, King's Fund, London W1G 0AN

    News p 317

    This is probably as good as it gets: a significant injection of money for the NHS sustained over five years1 coupled with a comprehensive national plan for the NHS, announced last week.2 The plan is true to the NHS's founding principles and has been drawn up by all the NHS's major stakeholders—who have signed up to help make it a reality.2 The plan is impressive in scope and clearly reflects messages coming from staff and the public in the recent public consultation exercise3—from “bring back matron,” to improving hospital food, to reducing micro-management of the service from Whitehall. It is a plan for the medium, not the short, term.

    Four headlines stand out: capacity; standards and targets; delivery; partnership. Years of lower growth in expenditure compared with other European countries have left the NHS looking worthy but relatively clapped out. The single most important part of the NHS plan is the cash injection to boost capacity: 7500 more consultants; 2000 more general practitioners, 20 000 more nurses; 7000 more beds (particularly to boost intermediate care), investment in NHS facilities—the list goes on. To anyone who has worked in frontline care, this is manna (leaving aside for the moment questions of how and when). The disappointment for many was …

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