Socialist Worker

Patricia Hewitt’s budget fiddle

Issue No. 2040

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt’s claim that the NHS has balanced its budget is an attempt to save her own skin.

The reported “success” comes despite the fact that the number of primary care trusts (PCTs) in deficit has risen from 39 percent three months ago to 47 percent now.

As trusts have fought to reduce their spending, there have been a total of 1,446 compulsory redundancies.

According to the campaign group Health Emergency, during 2006 some 23,000 NHS posts were axed and nearly 3,000 beds closed.

Fears have also been expressed for the future of skilled staff in the NHS.

This year £450 million has been taken from the training and education budget for NHS staff, and offset against the deficit. The impact of privatised treatment centres conducting routine operations is also causing concern.

David Nunn, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital in London, says that so much work is now being performed by non-NHS doctors that there is no work in hospitals for recent surgical graduates.

“Not one of our graduates at Guy’s has a consultant’s job,” he says.

“We will have a whole generation of junior doctors who won’t be able to do simple operations on their own, let alone complex ones.

“And in turn they won’t be able to train the next generation.

“This will destroy the health service.”

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