Managers should 'soft pedal' on implementing the internal market reforms or risk being sacked by an incoming Labour government, warned shadow health secretary Robin Cook.
Citing Labour's 21-point poll lead, he advised managers to consult widely on the reforms, and reminded some that their contracts would run out after the next general election. While commending them for their loyalty to the Department of Health despite fierce opposition to the reforms, he said it was time to question such loyalty.
A disciplinary code for doctors which will make it easier for health authorities to take 'appropriate action' has been issued by the DoH. It believes HAs have been inhibited by unfair and slow disciplinary procedures.
The new code follows three years of talks with the profession.
Transferring long-stay hospital patients to the community has been a success, according to research at Kent University. It monitored 28 projects which aimed to resettle 900 patients between 1983 and 1988, and found no former resident was left to drift in the community without supervision or support. This contradicts evidence from voluntary groups that mentally ill people are being abandoned to a cycle of homelessness and imprisonment.
Funds for AIDS and HIV will allow few service developments and could be insufficient to cater for all new patients, the worst affected HAs fear. The government has increased AIDS funding by 6 per cent this year, but caseloads in Nor th West Thames - with the highest proportion of cases in England - have risen by 48 per cent.
NHS staff will have to improve productivity to win anything more than basic pay rises in a continuing climate of financial constraint, outgoing NHS Management Executive personnel director Peter Wormald has warned.