Thinktank warns against ringfencing NHS budget

Stephen Dorrell MP, the new chair of the Health Select Committee, said today that ringfencing the £100billion NHS budget would be of limited value and instead advocated a voucher plan which would enable patients to choose and buy treatment. Mr Dorrell was speaking at an event organised by the 2020 Public Services Trust, of which he is a commissioner. The Trust also says that 82% of the public believe the NHS should be protected from spending cuts.

NHS paying for lessons in stand-up comedy

Health Service managers in Birmingham are reported to be spending thousands of pounds training unemployed women to become stand-up comics in a bid to help them make friends. Women and Theatre is running the courses, but it has been funded by Heart of Birmingham Teaching Primary Care Trust.

Unions to fight plans to curb the right to strike

The Daily Mail reports that there has been a furious backlash against government plans to introduce new legislation to make it harder to strike. The Trades Union Congress described the plans as “anti-democratic”. Daily Mail, p 1,12.

Comment from Polly Toynbee on ideology in the NHS

Polly Toynbee’s article in The Guardian argues that the NHS has a chronic disease – the obsessive compulsive disorder exhibited by politicians, compelling them to reorganise the whole machine. Toynbee argues that Health Secretary Andrew Lansley should learn the lessons of the previous government – that targets work in improving care but constant reorganisation is of little value to patients.

Opinion piece on NHS targets

Jeremy Laurance comments on the "bonfire of NHS targets", arguing that targets were beneficial as although doctors never raised waiting times as a key priority, they were consistently raised by patients. Laurance argues that scrapping targets now is simply a “rationing mechanism of last resort”.

The high-tech mattress that stops bed sores

The Daily Mail reports that scientists in Wales have developed a high-tech mattress cover to prevent bed sores - a problem that costs the NHS an estimated £1 billion a year. The mattresses, being trialled by Sunderland NHS Trust, detect a lack of movement and raise an alarm.

Patients warned against self-diagnosis online

The Daily Mirror reports on a study in the US which shows that only 39% of medical websites give accurate advice, contrary to the beliefs of growing numbers who use them. The Department of Health suggest that patients use the reliable data on the NHS Choices website which offers advice for over 800 conditions.

High hopes for development of an Alzheimer's blood test

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London have discovered a key protein which acts as an early marker for Alzheimer's disease. They hope that this discovery will lead to the development of a blood test which could predict the condition up to 10 years before symptoms appear.

Parliamentary Update

House of Commons

Westminster Hall debates 9.30am – 2.00pm: Child health in Nottingham [Chris Leslie]; future of Newark Hospital [Patrick Mercer]

Other business

Statistics published: Local Health Profiles 2010 (DoH)

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow welcomes Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Poll – Support after a Diagnosis

Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell speech at launch of 2020 Public Services Trust Improving Health Outcomes - a guide for action

Westminster Education/Legal Policy Forum seminar The way forward for child protection – speakers include Lord Laming

Care Services Minister Paul Burstow speech to All Party Group on cancer in the Commons