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Monday 28th May 2018

Meddling to blame for NHS debts

26th June 2006

NHS deficits have been caused by political meddling and damaging policies, say hospital consultants.

The British Medical Association attacked the government's handling of the NHS as ministers revealed a big rise in the size of the deficit.

The deficit for 2005-06 was £512m - more than double the figure for the previous year. But acting NHS chief executive, Sir Ian Carruthers said the health service was improving significantly in all areas.

But the BMA said the government was wasting money on involving the private sector and management consultants.

The unaudited accounts for the NHS in England for the last financial year show that the total deficit was more than £100m down on the mid-year projection of £620m.

Paul Miller, chairman of the BMA's consultants committee, said money was being wasted by a series of initiatives. He said hospital facilities were being left underused because private treatment centres, which carry out minor surgery, had been given a guaranteed numbers of patients.

And he also pointed the finger of blame at PFI deals, which use private money to build NHS hospitals, claiming firms had made money when facilities had not been built or vastly delayed.

Meanwhile, he claimed about £1bn was being spent by the NHS on management consultants each year "without any clear benefit".

But Health Minister Andy Burnham said the NHS's annual report confirmed waiting times are falling and the quality of treatment improving.

And Sir Ian Carruthers warned against what he describes as hysteria over NHS finances and job cuts.

The causes of the deficits are set to be explored in a joint National Audit Office and Audit Commission report to be published after the government reveals the deficit figure.

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