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Editor's blog 27th March 2009: DH unclear over how many GP practices still don't have indicative PBC budgets

Hello. A fairly brief one today - the FT has some very thoughtful features on health, which are well worth a read. Likewise in HSJ (yes, it's only acronymic publications getting a mention today), Sally Gainsbury has spotted two very interesting features which you should read.

The news that the 18-week waiting target has been met has met with an equivocal reception. The most clear-sighted response is from Michael Blastland on BBC News Online.

The achievement is of course significant, in so far as it sets a benchmark of relatively short waiting times, from which it is unlikely "the court of public opinion" (TM Harriet "My Sister's In Absolutely No Way A Wildly Ambulance-Chasing Lawyer" Harman) will allow future governments of whatever persuasion to resile.

Why 18 weeks, many have asked. Nice round number, innit? The symbolism of 18-month waits when Noo Labour got in in 1997 must have made it seem irresistible.

I will be looking at these more over the weekend, but one headline message from the DH's showed that the policy the DH is meant to have "reinvigorated" is probably being a tad stymied by the fact that GP practices have still not got indicative budgets.

But the problem is exacerbated, since the DH cannot even agree with itself whether the figure is 73% of practices (as here), or 69% (as here).

Now, this is mild pedantry over 4% difference. But if they cannot even take the time to get this consistent between releases, it makes you wonder just how much of a priority PBC really is.

More to the point, that 30-odd percent who still, three years on, don't have indicative budgets has an interesting echo throughout the stats, as it is generally about 30% of survey respondents who report being broiadly opposed to PBC.

Would you wonder why?