Thursday, 1 March 2007

Full scale of NHS cutbacks revealed

The full scale of impending hospital closures was laid bare last night as it emerged that three out of four trusts are already restricting patients' access to treatment as they battle soaring deficits.

Fears about the number of closures intensified as Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, sent NHS managers a guide on how best to handle decisions to shut down hospitals and units - a document that opposition politicians immediately branded a "spin" blueprint.

At the same time, a survey of NHS trust chief executives revealed the impact of the health service's financial crisis on front-line care.

The survey, published in today's Health Service Journal, shows that 73 per cent of primary care trusts, which run GP clinics and health centres, are already restricting access to treatments. Half are also delaying operations.

Seven out of 10 chief executives said "patient care will suffer" as a result of short-term financial decisions to cut deficits, while 61 per cent of acute hospital trusts said they were already closing wards.

The rest of the story can be seen here.