Magazine article Public Finance

Greater Expectations

Magazine article Public Finance

Greater Expectations

Article excerpt

When citizens become customers, expectations inevitably rise. This is, of course, a good thing-if public services do not improve over time then something must be seriously amiss.

But meeting customer expectations does not come cheap, and someone has to pick up the bill.

This has become painfully obvious in the NHS in the past week. Patients are demanding more, whether it's expensive new drugs such as Herceptin or shorter waiting times. And they are not afraid to go to the courts to get what they want.

The NHS may be receiving record sums, but it is having difficulty paying for existing commitments, never mind the new pressures that spring up every year. Many NHS organisations are in deficit and some are cutting back on services and staff to balance their books (see cover feature, pages 22-25).

Health spending will rise at record levels up to 2007/08. Mer this, the future is not so rosy. A 'zero sum' review of the health departments budgets is likely to conclude that spending rises should be limited to a more conservative 3% after 2008.

In this climate, it is no surprise that NHS Employers has called on the pay review bodies to limit next year s pay rises to 2. …

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