Brown proposes changes in the NHS
It seems that politicians around the world are thinking about the health of their countries. While in China, Chen Zhu has announced his plans for a universal health service and reform across health services, Gordon Brown, the UK Prime Minister, has also announced he is planning to make some changes in our health service.
The crux of Mr Brown's proposals are related to giving the NHS (National Health Service) a greater focus on prevention, rather than just curing patients.
He is planning to introduce increased screening for common diseases such as heart disease, strokes, and cancer, for example breast cancer. In Britain there are 200,000 deaths a year from heart attacks and strokes, many of which might have been avoided if the condition had been known about.
Initially, the diagnostic tests will be available for those who are most vulnerable, or most likely to have the disease, but later on the Prime Minister claims that they will be more widely available. One example is a plan to offer all men over 65 an ultrasound test to check for problems with the main artery, a condition which kills 3,000 men a year.
The opposition have criticised Mr Brown's proposals, saying that they are just a gimmick, and claiming that there is no proper timetable for the changes. They also say that Mr Brown is reducing the money available for the treatment of certain conditions while putting more money towards testing for them.
The NHS was founded in 1948, and is paid for by taxation. The idea is that the rich pay more towards the health service than the poor. However in recent years there has been a great increase in the use of private healthcare.
Many people who can afford it choose to pay for medical care, often because it can be quicker, although the doctors and hospitals are often the same! NHS waiting lists for operations can be very long, so people can jump the queue by paying for their operation.