News In Brief


BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 12 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:64

Low usage insurance scheme scrapped: After three years the Dutch health insurance scheme with a no claim bonus has been scrapped amid “serious doubts” about its effectiveness (BMJ 2004;328:660 doi: 10.1136/bmj.328.7441.660-b). The scheme was intended to reward healthy behaviour by refunding up to £170 (€250; $340) a year from premiums for not using hospital and pharmacy care. Instead all patients will pay the first £100 towards the cost of hospital care, with premiums expected to fall as a result. Patients who are chronically ill or handicapped will receive compensation.

Lawyer who caused international alert has multidrug resistant tuberculosis: Three further tests on the US lawyer who flew to Europe from Atlanta despite knowing that he has tuberculosis showed that he has multidrug resistant tuberculosis—not the extremely drug resistant form (BMJ 2007;334:1187 doi: 10.1136/bmj.39237.452269.DB). Experts at the National Jewish Medical Center, in Denver, where he is being treated in isolation, said more drugs can be given, but the treatment may take two years. Most passengers on his flights have been contacted.

NHS Direct exceeds performance targets: NHS Direct has recorded its best ever performance. It answered 467 000 calls in June, and 98% were answered within 60 seconds, breaking the 95% target set by the Department of Health. Of these calls, NHS Direct completed 48% without onward referral to another healthcare professional (the target is 38%), and 29% were emergency and urgent referrals, down from the target of 32%.

Smoke-free bars do not lose out on alcohol sales: Concerns that bars in areas of the United States with antismoking laws will lose financially are unfounded, despite claims by the tobacco industry that smoking bans would lead to a 30% drop in revenue. Researchers found that bars in areas with smoking bans sold for the same kind of prices as in other areas (American Journal of Public Health 2007 Jun 28 doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2006.095315). “We also found that neither price nor sales declined. Bar owners' concerns that smoking bans will reduce the value of their bars are unfounded.”

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