Is the cap on care costs doomed?

  • 24 July 2015
  • From the section Health
Woman

The cap on care costs has been a long time coming. Nearly 70 years in fact, as the social-care system has remained relatively unchanged since the post-World War Two welfare settlement.

But last Friday, in a written ministerial statement, the long-awaited changes were put on ice. Instead of the £72,000 cap starting in April 2016, the elderly, and younger adults with disabilities, will now have to wait until 2020.

Unsurprisingly, there is concern in some quarters the delay may actually spell the end for the changes. After all, if a week is a long time in politics - as the saying goes - four years must be an eternity.

Richard Humphries, an expert in social care from the King's Fund think tank, predicts the cap will not now be introduced.

He says: "In four years' time, things will have moved on. Demand will have continued increasing, and there is the National Living Wage to fund. We are now back at the start again, and I can't see it happening."

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Cancer: The challenge facing the NHS

  • 18 July 2015
  • From the section Health

When it comes to cancer, there is a mountain of statistics.

But if you want to understand the challenge facing the nation, simply consider this: the disease has now become so common that one out of every two people born after 1960 will develop it during their lifetime.

Read full article Cancer: The challenge facing the NHS

Is it time to help the hospices?

  • 15 July 2015
  • From the section Health
Jenny McMurtary
Jenny McMurtary was diagnosed with cancer last year

At Easter, Jenny McMurtary was given just days to live.

At Christmas, she had been diagnosed with a sarcoma, a rare cancer, in her shoulder, and it had spread.

Read full article Is it time to help the hospices?

Are nurses the new doctors?

  • 23 June 2015
  • From the section Health
Health staff

Medicine has changed dramatically over the years with new drugs and treatments revolutionising the way patients are cared for.

With that has come an overhaul in the way staff work. In particular, the demarcation between doctors and nurses.

Read full article Are nurses the new doctors?

Why bother with seven-day GP opening?

  • 19 June 2015
  • From the section Health
Open sign

There is a simple way to make a job more attractive. Attach more money to it.

But, of course, that is not really an option for GPs. Average pay - for those that run practices as partners at least - is already in the six figures so there would be an outcry if pay started going up dramatically when the rest of the public sector is being squeezed.

Read full article Why bother with seven-day GP opening?

Why are GPs so angry?

  • 17 June 2015
  • From the section Health
Stethoscope

Next week hundreds of doctors will descend on Liverpool for their annual conference.

The gathering of the British Medical Association is not really a time for celebration. It tends to be more about airing grievances.

Read full article Why are GPs so angry?

Why the NHS could soon prescribe home improvements and knitting

  • 6 June 2015
  • From the section Health
House with scaffolding
Some areas have offered home improvement support as a way to improve health

With mounting deficits, an ageing population and £22bn of "efficiency savings" to find in the next five years, the NHS is facing a monumental task.

This is reflected by the fact that the opening weeks of this government have been dominated by initiatives to get the health service back on an even keel by driving down costs by targeting areas such as spending on agency staff.

Read full article Why the NHS could soon prescribe home improvements and knitting

The NHS: What we weren't told during the election

  • 12 May 2015
  • From the section Health
People whispering

The NHS was one of the major topics of the election campaign. Politicians were falling over themselves to talk about it and promise more.

More money, more nurses and more doctors. And if that wasn't enough, the Conservatives were pledging more opening: they plan to ensure the NHS becomes a seven-day service.

Read full article The NHS: What we weren't told during the election

How many staff does the NHS need?

  • 1 May 2015
  • From the section Health
Health staff

When the NHS was created in 1948 there were 144,000 members of staff. In less than seven decades that figure has risen tenfold to 1.4 million across the UK.

But with all the political parties promising more health workers in the coming years, just how many doctors, nurses, porters, therapists and managers does the NHS need?

Read full article How many staff does the NHS need?

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".

Read full article Spot the difference