Health secretary Kenneth Clarke has added another£750,000 to the£2.15m bill for publicising the internal market reforms, with leaflets, regional meetings and a national conference scheduled for next week. He says he now wants to 'discuss people's questions and their feelings about the plans' locally. Mr Clarke has dismissed medical opposition as a 'knee- jerk reaction'. Managers say they regret the debate becoming 'political', but regard the confrontations as 'a phoney war'.
The British Medical Association has stepped up its£135,000 campaign against the reforms with a video featuring soap stars, to be used at 30 open meetings around the country. The video is 'aimed at the public, who need to know what is at stake', said BMA council chair Dr John Marks.
Sir Roy Griffiths, architect of NHS general management, implicitly endorsed some of the widespread criticism of the internal market reforms in his keynote address to the Institute of Health Services Management's annual conference. In any major change programme, good implementation was 75 per cent of the battle, he said, claiming that the white paper was 'not the most natural document to motivate staff and initiate the process of change - at least not managerial change'.
The government's record on the NHS over the past 10 years would be a major factor in today's European elections, Labour leader Neil Kinnock has predicted. British electors would use their votes to give their views on the government's intention to 'subject the NHS to split-up, opt-out and sell-off', he said.
The government's drive to slash the number of people on waiting lists has failed, according to an analysis of official figures by the National Association of Health Authorities, which shows the national total has risen by 30,000 annually.