Health chiefs accused of wasting cash

THE Health Secretary has accused the NHS in Hertfordshire of wasting record amounts of cash. Speaking in a Commons debate on maternity services, Patricia Hewitt warned health bosses in the county to reorganise services to make spending more efficient. She

THE Health Secretary has accused the NHS in Hertfordshire of wasting record amounts of cash.

Speaking in a Commons debate on maternity services, Patricia Hewitt warned health bosses in the county to reorganise services to make spending more efficient.

She said: "The NHS in Hertfordshire has overspent for many years, despite record increases in its budgets. It needs to reorganise its services to use those record budgets far more efficiently."

A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire PCT said: "Nationally the NHS has seen increased investment from central Government. This has helped Trusts in Hertfordshire make significant improvements for patients.

"Compared to 10 years ago, patients now wait less time for their hospital treatment and receive many more services delivered closer to their homes by their GP or another health professional.

"The two new primary care trusts in Hertfordshire inherited the deficit position of the eight former Hertfordshire PCTs. This financial position has been made more difficult this year by an initial reduction in our 2006/07 allocations to cover our overspend and a further reduction to cover some of the acute Trusts' deficits.

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"We have a recovery plan in place, agreed with the Strategic Health Authority."

An East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust spokesman said the scrapped Hatfield Hospital would have helped solve the funding issue.

He said: "In 2003 Investing in Your Health was the health strategy for Herts. It recognised one of the problems was it had too many small district hospitals which were difficult to maintain, and more money was going on preserving bricks and mortar than needs be.

"Hatfield, as originally envisaged, was the clinical, operational and financial solution - most acute services would be centralised. That made good sense and would have done exactly what Patricia Hewitt is talking about.

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