Blast over cost of health shake-up

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HEALTH chiefs face cutting nearly £22million from their budget to fund a shake-up of services, claims a Wearside MP.

Coalition Ministers are pushing ahead with the Health and Social Care Bill, which they say will modernise the NHS so that it is “built around patients” and “focused on delivering world-class healthcare”.

But the shake-up plans have caused widespread outcry, and now Washington and Sunderland West MP Sharon Hodgson has released figures claiming new guidelines will force Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust to put aside £21.7million from its budget this year and next to pay for a costly NHS restructure.

She said: “These shocking new figures show the Government’s reorganisation is costing the NHS even more than we first feared.

“It is scandalous that they are telling our local NHS to hold back millions of pounds for their own reckless plans whilst thousands of nursing jobs are being axed.

“Sunderland has already seen a 41 per cent increase in the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for treatment since David Cameron became Prime Minister.”

Mrs Hodgson said the financial request is buried in the Government’s new NHS Operating Framework document and takes the nationwide cost of the NHS reorganisation above previous estimates of £2billion to £3billion, with primary care trusts now holding back £3.44billion over two years.

Health chiefs, however, have said the savings are nothing new, and Sunderland Conservatives say billions spent by Labour did not make the NHS more productive or efficient.

A spokeswoman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, working on behalf of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, said: “The requirement for PCTs to set aside two per cent of their budgets for use ‘non recurrently’ is not new and we did this last year.”

Sunderland Conservatives leader Robert Oliver said: “The Labour Government went out of power proposing cuts of 20 per cent for each departmental budget so it beggars belief that Sharon Hodgson can complain about the financial settlement for the NHS as it is better than for most government departments and nowhere near what her own party would have done.

“But, moving on from predictable attacks on public spending, the real issue is how to make the NHS more productive and efficient as productivity fell during the last Labour Government despite billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash being shovelled at it year after year.”

“A similar position was announced within the 2010/11 Operating Framework and has applied in the current financial year. .”

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