NHS paying bills late14th February 2007
Bills are being paid late and orders cut by NHS trusts as part of efforts to keep within budget.
With Patricia Hewitt pledging the NHS would achieve financial balance this year, trust chief executives are under pressure not to overspend.
Trade associations who supply the NHS say their members are waiting twice or even three times as long as they should and warned it is creating problems for smaller suppliers.
The British Healthcare Trades Association said a significant number of trusts were breaching their standing orders with companies that should be paid within 30 days. Instead they are waiting 60 or even 90 days.
The British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association, whose members provide diagnostic supplies and tests, said its members were also seeing orders left open until the new financial year in April.
The Association of British Healthcare Industries said orders for larger items under capital spending had been hit the hardest.
This has raised speculation on whether the NHS can hit the 18-week target without investment in additional equipment.
However companies are bracing themselves for a sharp rise in orders in time for the start of the new financial year.
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