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Bleak Report On Healthy Authority Finances

November 9, 2004 12:00 AM

Commenting on the six monthly financial report issued at the South West London Strategic Health Authority's October Board meeting, Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington said, "This is the bleakest financial report I have seen in years. Not only is the local health service in the red, but if they try to balance their books next year, a number of health Trusts could be in 'a yet more serious financial situation.' It will be hard to avoid a health service winter of discontent."

Tom Brake has written to Dr Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, asking him what action he will be taking to stabilise the finances of the local health economy. He has also pointed out to the Health Secretary that as recently as January 2004, in response to a question from Mr Brake, the Health Secretary painted a rather rosier picture of the local health service's finances.

Tom Brake added, "I hope this does not put at risk the 'Better Healthcare Closer to Home' initiative which could deliver a real improvement in health services locally."

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Parliamentary Question 20th January 2004

NHS Trust Deficits

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): What estimate he has made of the total projected deficits in NHS trusts in England for the end of this financial year. [148786]

The Secretary of State for Health (Dr. John Reid): Audited information on the financial position of national health service trusts will be published in their individual annual accounts. These data will be available centrally in the autumn. We have no plans to publish unaudited information.

Tom Brake : I thank the Secretary of State for his response. Does he agree that many strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and acute trusts are suffering from years of underinvestment? Will he tell the House what assessment he has made of waiting times and of the number of beds and operations, in terms of requiring acute trusts such as my own, which I understand has a deficit of £8 million, to achieve financial balance in the year 2003-04?

Dr. Reid: I accept the hon. Gentleman's assertion that for many years-indeed, for decades-the NHS had been suffering from underinvestment. That is why the largest and longest ever sustained increases in investment under this Government are only now beginning to show distinct improvements: to some extent, trusts have been back-filling for the underinvestment that occurred in the years of the previous Government. I know that trusts in the hon. Gentleman's own area-Epsom and St. Helier, for instance-have been forecasting a deficit position for several months. However, with additional support provided by the local strategic health authority and local primary care trusts, it is expected to break even by the year end.

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