Headlines: December 24th, 1999

The health service is to receive 34b pounds in 2000/2001 and it has been set clear priorities. The funding represents a rise of 4.2%, excluding inflation. This is higher than the increase for the current year.The strategic direction for the health service in the next year has been set out in the new National Priorities Guidance. The priorities include a call for cross border working with local authorities to improve care and support for older people, people with mental health problems and children. There will also be investment in staff and information technology in the drive for modernisation.

Other priorities include a faster and more convenient service, saving lives by focusing on such conditions as cancer, coronary heart disease and stroke and improving health by tackling the causes of ill health such as smoking and drugs.