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Health bill will do little to meet challenges facing NHS, three Labour, Tory, and Lib Dem politicians agree

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 23 November 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d7648
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

There was strong cross party agreement about the challenges the NHS faces when Alan Milburn, Shirley Williams, and Stephen Dorrell MP met on 22 November under the auspices of Policy Exchange, the market oriented think tank. Alas for the health secretary, the strongest agreement of all was that his health bill will do little to meet those challenges.

“If we’re not careful, a perfect storm threatens to engulf the NHS,” said Mr Milburn, a former Labour health secretary. If we get the next few years wrong—“and we show every sign of doing so”—then the growth of demand and of expectations would collide with the reality of diminished real resources. Many trends were running in the wrong direction, he said, citing the fact that 50% of resources were spent in hospitals and only 20% in primary care, and that, according to the Audit Commission, hospital spending was still rising …

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