Spot the difference

  • 23 April 2015
  • From the section Health
Magnifying glass and figures

We will give "mental health parity with physical health". Can you guess which party says this? The Liberal Democrats, who have flown the flag for mental health services?

Yes. But these exact words were actually taken from UKIP's manifesto. Labour's manifesto said the two should have the "same priority", while the Tories opted for the phrase "equal priority".

What about this? We want to integrate health and care. Labour? Tories? Yes and yes - along with the Greens, UKIP and Lib Dems on the campaign trail.

There are plenty more examples like these on everything from improving access to GPs to tackling the A&E pressures and employing more staff. In fact, it could be said, the ambitions are remarkably similar.

It is a point made by Chris Ham, chief executive of the King's Fund think tank. At the health election debate held at the British Library this week (a kind of leaders debate for the health spokespeople), he remarked how there was a great deal of consensus between the parties - and that was something to "celebrate".

Read full article Spot the difference

The changing face of death

  • 10 April 2015
  • From the section Health
Heart
Chronic conditions such as heart disease have replaced infectious diseases as the biggest killer

There are few things guaranteed in life. Death - along with taxes, as the saying goes - is one of them. But what we die of has and is continuing to change.

A hundred years ago, infectious diseases were the scourge of the nation. As the 1800s drew to a close, more than a third of all deaths were caused by the likes of small pox, measles, cholera, tuberculosis and diphtheria.

Read full article The changing face of death

Is cancer care at a crossroads?

  • 25 March 2015
  • From the section Health
Radiotherapy

Cancer is already the leading cause of death in the UK. And, thanks to the ageing population, it is estimated that soon half of us will get it at some point in our lives.

But with the number of cases on the rise, there are signs that all is not well with how the NHS is responding.

Read full article Is cancer care at a crossroads?

How bad has winter been for the NHS?

  • 13 March 2015
  • From the section Health
Stretcher

This has been the most difficult winter for the NHS for a long time. Wherever you live in the UK, local services have been under strain.

The four-hour target to be seen in A&E has been missed in each nation - and that has had a knock-on effect on other parts of the hospital system.

Read full article How bad has winter been for the NHS?

Why not introduce more NHS charges?

  • 11 March 2015
  • From the section Health
Stethoscope and calculator

In the early 1950s, the NHS was going through a tough period. Money was tight and demand was rising. So ministers came up with a radical plan - they introduced charges for dentistry, prescriptions and spectacles.

The move in 1952 was controversial, but did enough to get the NHS out of a tricky hole. With the finances tight again, should extending charges be under consideration now?

Read full article Why not introduce more NHS charges?

Are anti-smoking measures working?

  • 11 March 2015
  • From the section Health
smoking

Along with Australia, the UK can probably claim to be the toughest nation in the world when it comes to trying to stub out smoking.

Take a look at what has happened over the past decade. There has been a ban on smoking in public places, the introduction of graphic warnings on packs and a ban on shops displaying tobacco products.

Read full article Are anti-smoking measures working?

Is another NHS scandal brewing?

  • 4 March 2015
  • From the section Health
Morecambe Bay report

Lethal. Shocking. Unacceptable. Dysfunctional. Failures at every level. So said the report into maternity care at Cumbria's Furness General Hospital.

But as was pointed out repeatedly as the inquiry published its findings on Tuesday, the parallels with Stafford Hospital are chillingly similar. In fact, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt went as far as calling it a "second" Stafford Hospital - albeit it on a smaller scale.

Read full article Is another NHS scandal brewing?

Savile: Why the risks are real in today's NHS

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section Health
Jimmy Savile on Jim'll Fix It
Savile used his celebrity to gain access to NHS hospitals

It is easy to say Jimmy Savile's abuse of patients, staff and visitors on NHS premises would not happen in today's health service.

But the report published by barrister Kate Lampard on the lessons learned from the 44 NHS investigations shows this would be dangerously complacent.

Read full article Savile: Why the risks are real in today's NHS

Greater Manchester: The start of something big?

  • 25 February 2015
  • From the section Health
Sign showing change of direction

Ever since the NHS was created in 1948, it has remained separate to the council-run care system that oversees help in the home with tasks such as washing and dressing and care home places.

But as the decades have gone by and health care has shifted from curing illnesses to helping people manage long-term conditions such as dementia and heart disease, there has been an increasing sense that the two systems need to become more joined up.

Read full article Greater Manchester: The start of something big?

NHS privatisation: Why the fuss?

  • 20 February 2015
  • From the section Health
Surgeons

The words privatisation and NHS together are enough to start a fight in an empty room. But what exactly do we mean by it? And why does the issue make many so angry?

London's Cromwell Hospital, run by Bupa, does a good trade in NHS patients at its gamma knife radiosurgery centre. About a third of the patients with brain tumours seen there are sent by the NHS, costing the health service nearly £7,300 a go.

Read full article NHS privatisation: Why the fuss?