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As the global economic roller coaster continues to unfold, governments the world over have desperately been scrambling to find the right policies that will effectively clamp on the brakes to end this unnerving joyride we have witnessed over the last few months, if not years. The frontline of this battle against economic gravity involves elaborate financial schemes to salvage countries and banks alike, but inevitably it has also meant that governments and companies have been tightening their belts to cut budgets wherever possible. In the United Kingdom, the slashing has heavily hit one of the country's dearest public institutions, the National Health Service (NHS), which has been asked to whittle £20 billion ($31.5 billion) from its budget by 2014. While most have grudgingly accepted this reality, some still remain optimistic in these times of austerity and vow to make the best out of it. Prime Minister David Cameron falls within the group of enthusiasts and has rallied his citizens by telling them that "we will be tested. I will be tested. I'm ready for that and, so I believe, are the British people. So yes, there is a steep climb ahead. But I tell you this: The view from the summit will be worth it."
"British Bulldog" by Elaine Campling, www.elainecampling.moonfruit .com
DESPERATE TIMES CALL FOR DRASTIC MEASURES
But what exactly will be unveiled when the British arrive at the peak of their mount? When it comes to its healthcare system, the controversial 2011 Health and Social Care Bill provides concrete clues—but not quite certainties—as to where the country is headed in caring for its patients and how pharmaceutical companies will play a pivotal role in constructing a more efficient NHS. The overarching aim of this unprecedented reform is to improve patient outcomes by simplifying the organizational structure of health institutions, which presumably will bring down costs, while at the same time increasing the uptake of innovation through a new value-based pricing (VBP) scheme.
Mark Jones, Marketing Company President, AstraZeneca UK
As it stands, the procurement of healthcare services in the NHS is managed by hospital and primary care trusts (PCTs) that are allocated individual budgets for a specific geographic area. Under the proposed system, this responsibility will be delegated to smaller GP consortia that will also be able to procure services from private and third-party providers in order to allow for greater competition. The proposal has been widely criticized as an attempt to privatize the entirely free NHS, to such an extent that the government had to halt its plans in order to hold a 'listening exercise,' after which the bill was amended to incorporate input received from all relevant stakeholders. The way forward is still under discussion.
Sir Kent Woods, Chief Executive, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)