Intended for healthcare professionals


The NHS: last act of a Greek tragedy?

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 01 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:a

Imagine that you are the British prime minister sitting in 10 Downing Street being driven mad with frustration. The damn NHS won't deliver. You've tried inspiration, perspiration, leadership, persuasion, threats, bribes, measurement, modernisation, information technology, hit teams, clever new quangos with still cleverer acronyms, wheedling, and even straightforward pleading, but still satisfaction falls, targets to reduce deaths from cancer are not being achieved (p895), waiting lists grow, dreadful stories appear in the media, and the moaning goes on. What now?

Last week the government reached for the ultimate weapon, the one it least …

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