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Blair considers US scheme

The Government is considering importing a US scheme that takes a zero-tolerance approach to public health problems to the NHS.

Under the scheme run in Baltimore, health officials face being sacked unless they improve statistics on sexually transmitted infections, infant mortality and drug misuse. Officials also have to provide statistics to the city authorities as often as every two weeks.

Cases of syphilis have fallen by 80 per cent in four years since the HealthStat scheme started and cases of tuberculosis fell by 50 per cent in a year.

The move would be the latest American health initiative to be brought to the UK,

following the Evercare and Kaiser Permanente schemes.

Peter Beilenson, health commissioner for Baltimore, told Pulse he had discussed the programme with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Home Secretary David Blunkett.

'It might be hard to implement on a national level but there's no reason Manchester, Birmingham or Liverpool could not do it,' he said. 'We don't want to put anyone out of a job but managers can be held responsible.'

Primary care tsar Dr David Colin-Thome also told a recent NHS Alliance conference he was interested in learning more about the approach. He said: 'We need to look at short-term tangible targets.'

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