As a new era for the health service began with the official launch of the NHS Commissioning Board on Monday, its chief executive Sir David Nicholson penned a piece for The Guardian in which he described 1 October as a “landmark date”. Sir David wrote that everything the board did would be “underpinned” by a “single focus on improving the quality of care for our patients”.
The Guardian also commemorated the big day by revealing problems at GSTS Pathology, a joint venture between Serco and King’s College Hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ foundation trusts. The paper said the 2009 takeover led to a “series of clinical and financial failures”. GSTS experienced 400 clinical incidents and lost £5.6m last year, staying afloat thanks to cash bailouts from the hospitals.
On the same day, The Times devoted a double-page spread to the “scandalous mass dependency on harmful tranquilisers” allowed by the NHS. It reported there are 11 million prescriptions for benzodiazepines each year and 1 million people were “hooked” on the drugs. Royal College of Nursing chief executive Peter Carter described it as shocking.
The Daily Telegraph revealed new hope for IVF couples with a £100 procedure that scratches the womb, making it easier for eggs to embed. The paper reported hopes that it would be “offered routinely in the next few years”.
Meanwhile, the Daily Mail highlighted new age discrimination rules, which allow patients to sue the NHS if they have been prevented from receiving healthcare because of their age.
The paper also reported “soaring numbers of patients are being admitted to hospital with gout triggered by obesity and heavy drinking”. It claimed admissions had doubled in a decade to more than 4,400 each year.