MPs cast doubts on NHS financial turnaround

The triumphant NHS turnaround, from a gross deficit of £547m to a £515m
surplus in a year, has been challenged by the
Public Accounts Committee

Chairman Edward Leigh called the achievement in the 2006/07 accounts
‘commendable’, but added: ‘The headline figures mask some unwelcome evidence
that the NHS is not yet travelling along the road to long-term financial

More than one in five NHS organisations ran up a total deficit of £917m, and
some trusts only achieved budget by cutting back on healthcare, Leigh said.
There was ‘evidence that financial balance was achieved by slowing down or
postponing some healthcare’.

The surplus follows two years of rising deficits. It was achieved by
top-slicing some budgets to hold in reserve, with targeted support for the
worst-performing bodies and tighter management of resources by the Department
for Health.

Leigh said: ‘Bad financial management at local level can have significant
consequences for patients: there is a clear link between financial performance
and the quality of clinical services. This is a lesson which must be driven home
across the NHS, to both financial and clinical staff.’

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