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Patient power.

It is perhaps natural that the Prime Minister should be giving a speech today to put the best possible gloss on the shape of the NHS, particularly in the light of perhaps scaremongering reports about dozens of hospitals shutting down.

As we have said before, this Government's actions have raised doubts as never before about how safe the NHS is in Labour's hands.

In his talk to the New Health Network think-tank Mr Blair was seeking to reassure doctors and nurses that he is determined to press ahead with the 10-year reform programme as outlined in the 2000 Government NHS Plan.

All this is normal politics and quite unexceptional. What sticks in the gullet in the light of recent Huddersfield experience is when he goes on to paint a picture of a future NHS service which will give power to patients, of replacing the current NHS system with one "devolved and decentralised with far greater power in the hands of the patient".

We can't help but wonder just how this sits with the situation at the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where his quango has ridden roughshod over the clearly expressed hopes, not just of the patients, but of the doctors and the nurses, over the transfer of services to Halifax.

Can we now expect the Prime Minister to over-rule that decision in view of his interest in patient power, in his own words a "get what you want" service?

Or is this just spin and empty rhetoric, what Churchill taking great pains to employ Parliamentary language called a gross technological inexactitude? In plain English, a lie?

Gotcha pounds 1m!

ANOTHER thing to get the blood pressure soaring is the news of the temporary speed camera at roadworks on the M62 at Ferrybridge, which raised more than pounds 1m in fines in 18 months.

Thank goodness it wasn't permanent or things could have been serious, couldn't they?

Yes, of course, the 18,000 drivers, caught at the rate of 1,000 a month, should have obeyed the 50mph speed limit imposed to ensure the safety of roadworks staff and the drivers themselves.

But this will have done nothing to disabuse a large number of motorists from the conviction that speed cameras are a nice little earner at the driver's expense.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 18, 2006
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