Wednesday, 6 June 2007

NHS has over £500m Surplus But At What Price?

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had put her job on the line over getting the health service out of the red. Hewitt now claims success as on paper the NHS has a 510m surplus. The question is how is that possible when only a year ago they had a deficit in excess of 500m?

Are you suspicious yet? Well you have every right to be. This "surplus" came at a heavy price. Over 17,000 jobs have been lost in the last 12 months according to the NHS Information Centre and in the final months of the 2006-07 financial year, operations were delayed by NHS trusts so that they would not appear on the balance sheet. A perfect example of politics taking precedence over health care. What did they tell the people who had most likely been waiting months if not years for their operations? "I'm sorry ma'am but Hewitt has her job on the line therefore we need to reschedule until the next financial year."

The British Medical Association has accused the government of "decimating hospitals". I'm sure Hewitt thinks this is a minor price to pay if it means saving her job.

The above cuts alone however were not enough to rid the NHS of debt.
With the agreement of ministers, NHS chiefs began to build up reserves to cover any shortfall and create a safety net. Approximately ten percent was shaved off the £3.7bn training budget (I guess Hewiit figured the trainees would figure it out on their own eventually) and cuts were also made to public health spending. This gave the health bosses a contingency fund of £450m.
Additionally 1/3 of the extra £5.4bn the NHS was due in 2006-o7 was held back.

Then, in the last weeks of the financial year, millions of pounds were put back into the NHS, helping to create the surplus. Yes Hewitt has created a surplus but at the cost of thousands of jobs, postponed operations, less training for employees, and withholding money which prevented the expansion of services.

Hewitt has done nothing more than fiddle the books. Even with this surplus nearly a fifth of hospitals and PCTs, which are the parts of the health service responsible for care, finished the year in the red.

The government says the public should not be worried about this as the NHS is still getting the money. Tell that to the people who had operations delayed so they wouldn't appear on the 06-07 balance sheet.


Bill said...

Hewitt should be sacked for putting political goals ahead of health care. Operations postposed so they didnt appear on the years books? Its shameful!!

bradley said...

I agree that drastic measures need be taken to ressurect the NHS. Ms Hewitt did not go about this the correct way. Postponing Operations and withholding fund from the NHS is not an accetable solution and will only increase the problem this year.

james higham said...

It seems more than strange that they should miraculously engineer a surplus like this. In fact, it stinks.

Labour has killed the NHS.