Monday, June 30, 2008

Ex-Postie Johnson's Postcode Promise

Health secretary, Alan Johnson's, promise to deliver us from the NHS drugs 'postcode lottery' is welcome from the former postie. But will he deliver, or was this a desperate last ditch attempt to regain some public trust and steal Brown's thunder?

Waiting for up to three years for the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to make a decision on new drugs, created the 'postcode lottery' as health trusts were left to make their own decisions on funding treatment.

Johnson says the government wants to speed up approval in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The process in Scotland is already much quicker.

Critics are already questioning whether the change will be all that significant, as much of the delay in assessing a new drug has been blamed on the slowness of government to refer drugs to NICE in the first place.

Johnson has been keeping his head down, after his promise to 'Deep Clean' hospitals turned out to be an utterly useless and very expensive publicity stunt. 

He's a former trade union leader with true Labour credentials and comes across as a solid, decent bloke. He just seems bemused by this whole 'New Labour' thing.

It is hoped he can deliver this time and this isn't another stunt, playing with the lives and hopes of suffering patients.

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