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Jennifer Hislop: Florence Nightingale and Mae West – the unsung pioneers of health policy?

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThe second part of the session “Investing in health. From health to wealth” at the European Health Forum Gastein was devoted to “Resolving the efficiency and quality dilemma.” Olivia Wigzell, Deputy Director General of Health and Social Affairs in Sweden, spoke eloquently on the topic of health systems performance assessment (HSPA), citing Florence Nightingale as an early pioneer. Not only did Nightingale evaluate the effectiveness of performance during the Crimean War, she also used visual methods of describing her statistics to articulate the problems clearly and so aid politicians in their decision making. We can only wonder what Florence Nightingale would have achieved with PowerPoint at her fingertips. Things are of course different now and perhaps she would have lost her zeal for statistics if it had been policy to collect key performance indicator data? more…

Jennifer Hislop: Running healthcare systems in an age of austerity—riding the “rodeo bull”

9 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Jennifer HislopThis was the analogy put to delegates by Hungarian Minister of State for Health, Miklos Szocska, during the first session of the European Health Forum panel on “Investing for health. From health to wealth.” But can all European countries make sure they stay in the saddle?

DG SANCO director general Paola Testori Coggi focused her talk around the commission staff working document, “Investing in Health,” and detailed the upcoming priorities at EU level, including the implementation of the cross border healthcare directive. She reiterated the need to view health spending as an opportunity for investment—fewer sick days mean increased productivity among the workforce. After all, how can Europe get back on its feet financially if we’re all unwell? more…

Roberto Debono: “We must not speak about crisis, we must speak about a new reality”

8 Oct, 13 | by BMJ

Roberto DebonoThe title is a quote from a discussion between Vytenis Povilas Andriukaitis, the Minister of Health, Lithuania, and Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Minister of Health, Greece, and it set the tone at the opening plenary of the 16th European Health Forum, which kicked off on Wednesday 2 October at 12.30 sharp in Bad Hofgastein, Austria.

Dr Helmut Brand, President of the International Forum Gastein, introduced the forum, this year entitled Resilient and Innovative Health Systems for Europe, to a full house of public health professionals against the picturesque backdrop of the Gastein valley.

In the words of Spyridon-Adonis Georgiades, the Greek Minister for Health and one of the five guests on the panel, the crisis (or new reality) “…will be with us for many more years to come,” and policy should be structured to address such a reality. more…

Tiago Villanueva: Austerity eroding Portuguese healthcare

19 Apr, 12 | by BMJ Group

Tiago_VillanuevaIn 1960, Portugal’s infant mortality rate was 77.5 deaths per 1000 live births, which is comparable to that of many Sub Saharan African countries today. In 2010, Portugal’s infant mortality rate was 2.5 deaths per 1000 live births, one of the lowest in Europe and in the world. more…

Kathi Apostolidis: Demolishing the Greek national healthcare system the amateur way

22 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

It takes vision, passion for healthcare, compassion for those who suffer, knowledge, a dedicated team of experts, commitment from all stakeholders, and experience of what it means to be a patient to plan a new strategy for the healthcare sector. These are all missing from what the Greek Ministry of Health has done for the last two years.

What the Ministry of Health has achieved up until now are just separate agreements with different interest groups of the healthcare sector, each fighting fiercely to safeguard their own benefits. Thus, pharmacists have successfully safeguarded their profession, and doctors are allowed to continue practising privately. more…

David Payne: Jeremy Clarkson and public sector strikers

2 Dec, 11 | by BMJ Group

David Payne The eurozone is in crisis, Britain’s embassy has been stormed in Iran, youth unemployment is above a million, and the US Republicans are struggling to field a presidential candidate whose grasp of foreign policy extends beyond being able to see Russia from their back garden. So guess what the top question was on BBC Question Time last night? What should happen to Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson after he called for striking public sector workers to be shot in front of their families? more…

David Pencheon: Not waving but talking

8 Dec, 09 | by David Pencheon

David Pencheon You may be aware that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), BMJ Editor-in-Chief Fiona Godlee, and the Campaign for Greener Healthcare hosted a meeting of health professionals at the RCN on Saturday as part of the Wave demonstration.  Here’s my contribution:

“The time is now.  As health professionals we have a duty of care, a duty to remind people we have no right to break a long established deal – that we leave this world in a better state than we found it – for everyone. more…

Tessa Richards: Paying for health in Europe

19 May, 09 | by BMJ

Tessa RichardsTwo years ago health ministers in the Czech Republic decided to focus on the financial sustainability of health systems during their six months at the EU presidency helm. Was this foresight? Did the ministers know what the bankers did not- that economic Armageddon was round the corner? Either way, the financial crisis was certainly concentrating minds at their recent conference on how countries can continue to meet their rising healthcare costs. more…

Support small charities, says Peter Lapsley

9 Mar, 09 | by BMJ Group

Peter Lapsley It is very good to see Changing Faces nominated as the BMA charity of the year, both because it is an outstanding organisation and because the nomination recognises a reality of which too many people are unaware.

I know Changing Faces well. Run by its founder, the indefatigable James Partridge, it supports and represents people with disfigurements to the face, hand or body. It is imaginative, innovative, collaborative, and a model of good governance. more…

Sara McCafferty on priority setting

20 Feb, 09 | by BMJ

Sarah McCafferty

In October last year we announced the UK Forum on Health Care Priority Setting at the 7th meeting of the International Society on Priorities in Health Care. The forum is funded by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement and is organised by the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle University. more…

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