Recent NHS reforms, such as the introduction of patient choice and provider competition, have not had a deleterious impact on equity with respect to waiting times for elective surgery in England, concludes a study published on bmj.com today. Until recently, hospital waiting times were seen as a significant problem for the NHS. However, over the past 10 years, as the government increased the supply of doctors, increased funding for the health service, set rigid waiting time targets, and, more recently, introduced market based reforms, waiting times have dropped considerably. Yet little was known about whether the drop in waiting times had been equitably distributed with respect to socioeconomic status.
Rewards go further than punishment in building human cooperation and benefiting the common good, according to research published this week in the journal Science by researchers at Harvard University and the Stockholm School of Economics. While previous studies have focused almost exclusively on punishment for promoting public cooperation, here rewards are shown to be much more successful. The new study, which finds that rewards robustly build compliance and cooperation, could help in developing solutions for thorny problems requiring the cooperation of large numbers of people to achieve a greater good. It was conducted using a computer-based public goods game, a classic experiment for measuring collective action in a laboratory setting.
Republicans are making headway in new polls, based on gains they're getting from the public's reform pushback, McClatchy Newspapers reports: "Over the August congressional break, House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio issued regular news releases about health care surveys. 'New Rasmussen Poll Shows That 53 Percent of Americans Oppose Democratic Government-Run Health Plan, ' read an Aug. 13 release. It cited 'no fewer than five polls' that it said 'showed increasing concern, if not outright opposition' to the Obama efforts. Two days earlier, Boehner cited surveys by Rasmussen, USA Today and Gallup as evidence of 'continued erosion of support for the government takeover of health care.
According to SDI, a leading healthcare market insight and analytics firm that consolidates electronic healthcare claims data, there have been over 477, 000 seasonal flu vaccinations already administered through Aug. 29 - the fourth week of this year's flu season. That is an increase of 237% compared to the same four weeks during last season. The majority of seasonal flu inoculations (78%) have been given to children, and of those, the most popular brand has been MedImmune's FluMist. At least 246, 000 FluMist inoculations were administered through the week ending Aug. 29, which accounted for 66% of vaccinations for patients under age 18. SDI maintains the largest influenza-monitoring program in the United States and has tracked, measured, and forecast the number of people affected by cough, cold, influenza, and other upper respiratory conditions to assist clients and consumers alike for over 25 years.
The ninth Death, Dying and Disposal conference will examine the popular meaning of "public deaths" including those of former pop icon Jackson and ex-reality TV star Jade Goody who both died this year. Other items under discussion at the four-day event include a debate on the portrayal of death in the Harry Potter series of books and the influence this has on young people's understanding of grief. The conference, which will take place from September 9 to 12, is being hosted by Durham University's Centre for Death and Life Studies and its Institute of Advanced Studies. About 200 academics and practitioners from the arts and humanities, social sciences and medicine and palliative care fields will also look at issues including: Human emotions surrounding woodland burials;
A new payment system for hospitals in England has led to real changes in the delivery of care, concludes a study published on bmj.com. In April 2002, the Department of Health in England outlined plans to introduce a new system of financing hospitals called "payment by results." This fixed tariff payment system directly linked the income hospitals receive with the number and case mix of patients treated and was motivated by policy objectives to increase efficiency, volume of activity, and quality of care in English NHS hospitals. Similar systems have been adopted in other countries, but the impact of payment by results in England has yet to be thoroughly evaluated.