Sunday, January 29, 2006

THE BRITISH MONEY SINK

The more money British public hospitals get, the LESS they are able to do their job

The full scale of the crisis facing the NHS was laid bare last night by ministers who admitted that up to 50 trusts had lost control of their finances. Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, "named and shamed" 18 NHS trusts who have plunged into substantial deficit and will now have outside accountants imposed on them to find millions of pounds of savings. A further 32 organisations will be given additional "advice and management support", while another 19 needed "drive and focus" to meet their financial targets.

Her comments came as a survey of hospital managers found that more than three quarters of NHS trusts currently in deficit have cut staff, 52 per cent have closed wards while 48 per cent are delaying work, and another 38 per cent have cancelled services or restricted eligibility for services.

Ms Hewitt admitted that it was a "difficult and anxious time" for NHS staff as years of huge financial generosity ended with the health service last year recording its first financial deficit since 1999-2000. At 76.4 billion pounds, the NHS budget is now larger than the gross domestic product of 155 members of the United Nations, she said. "It is one of the largest and most complex organisations in the world, and three quarters of trusts have delivered improvements within their budget."

The NHS Confederation, which represents managers, yesterday gave warning that the financial problems were undermining public confidence. "It is wrong of the Government to simply blame NHS managers" said Gill Morgan, the confederation's chief executive. "The causes of the current problems are deep-rooted and long-term." They would never be resolved until politicians allowed NHS managers to "make some painful decisions" - such as closing hospitals or reducing the number of beds. "A fixation with buildings is preventing the development of new and imaginative services," she said.

Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said: "We warned that ministers had lost financial control and Ms Hewitt's statement confirms this is the case. "There are clearly systematic problems because at the same time as resources to the NHS are increasing dramatically, costs have ballooned. "Instead of the Department of Health blaming trusts, Patricia Hewitt should come to Parliament and make a full statement on the financial prospects for the NHS, for this year and the coming financial year".

Yesterday she declined to say whether the most recent figures showed any improvement in financial performance.

Source






Free film here: "Dead Meat is a short film which shows the reality of health care under Canada's socialized medical system: Canadians wait ... and wait. And sometimes - they die while waiting for free government health care. Filmmakers Stuart Browning and Blaine Greenberg are currently in production on a feature-length film exploring health care in the U.S. and Canada slated for release in late 2006. As an interim offering, they have produced this short.

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For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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