HSJ would like to start the new century by highlighting its part in a modest victory for the NHS, scored as the old century drew to a close. We refer to the government s announcement of an extra £90m allocated to the service for the remainder of the financial year to meet the rising cost of generic drugs.

Price-hikes of a third since April and accompanying shortages of some heavily prescribed generic drugs began to pose severe problems for primary care groups in 1999. HSJ was the first to publicise this issue, in September. As a direct result of our story, the Commons health select committee launched an inquiry . Its report was published last month, and on the same day the government announced the new money and its own fundamental review of the generic drugs market.

It is gratifying what a little press attention can achieve. Perhaps the Healthcare Financial Management Association should pat itself on the back, too. For on top of the extra£90m came another£44m for the cost of clinical negligence claims. The HFMA went public in November about the NHS s looming financial problems - and suffered a severe dressing-down from the NHS Executive as a result. But it was right to do so, however it may have embarrassed ministers and mandarins intent on keeping the lid on bad news.

Would the NHS have had this extra£134m without the pressure adverse publicity can bring to bear? We will never know for sure, but we doubt it.