Intended for healthcare professionals


The NHS in England in 2012

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 21 December 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d8259
  1. Chris Ham, chief executive
  1. 1King’s Fund, London W1G 0AN, UK
  1. c.ham{at}

A year in which the medical profession must exercise leadership on quality and safety

Three issues have dominated debate about health policy in England during 2011. The first has been the Health and Social Care Bill currently before parliament, which seems likely to pass into law in the spring. Amendments made after the report of the Future Forum have done little to appease critics, who continue to worry that the bill marks a major step towards privatising aspects of NHS provision and commissioning.

The second issue is the performance of the NHS. With funding unlikely to increase by more than a fraction of 1% in real terms over the next six years, there are widespread concerns that patient care will be affected as financial deficits increase. At a time when several NHS organisations are struggling to balance their budgets and even more are not meeting targets on waiting times and other key priorities, the auguries are not promising.

The third concern is the quality of patient care. Here, there is an apparent contradiction between reports from the Commonwealth Fund and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development,1 2 which show the NHS in a positive light, and evidence from the Care Quality Commission of the inability of some organisations to treat older patients with dignity and respect. …

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