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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2005): National Health Service - Funding

'£500M HOLE' IN HOSPITAL BUDGETS

C. Hall

The Daily Telegraph, Mar. 21st 2005, p.1

The National Health Service will be forced to delay or scale back planned improvements this year because of a growing deficit in hospital finances. NHS trusts are facing shortfalls as the end of the financial year approaches with some admitting, for the first time, that they will not balance their books.

(See also The Times, Mar. 18th 2005, p.1)

£637M AWARDED TO CLOSE GAP MADE BY PAYMENT BY RESULTS

Anon.

Health Service Journal, vol.115, Mar. 3rd 2005, p.5

The Department of Health has diverted £637m from financial year 2005/06 primary care allocations to plug a financial deficit about to emerge underpayment-by-results. The money will be used to compensate those primary care trusts set to lose out under the latest changes to the tariff-based system. The "imbalance" is rooted in the fact that the amount of current hospital activity priced about the national tariff outweighs that priced below it. However, the cover does not fully plug the imbalance and primary care trusts will have to find savings of £73m.

CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL SHUTS BEDS

S. Lister

The Times, Mar. 7th 2005, p.22

It has emerged that Great Ormond Street Hospital has closed beds and cancelled operations because of its debts. The children's hospital has amassed a £1.7 million deficit because it has treated more patients that expected over the past year, pushing up staff bills.

POLITICAL PRESSURE UNDERMINING FINANCE REFORMS, WARNS DREDGE

M.L. Harding

Health Service Journal, vol.115, Mar.24th 2005, p.5

Former Department of Health head of finance reform Bob Dredge has warned that political manoeuvring could delay the roll-out of the new payment-by-results system and that further moves to "unbundle the tariff" run the risk of dismantling it. "Unbundling the tariff" allows tariffs to be split locally according to care pathways and threatens to undermine the foundations of payment by results.

ROW OVER NHS FUNDING SPLITS PARTIES

P.Wintour, D.Ward and O.Boycott

The Guardian, Mar. 4th 2005, p.12

The disputed medical history of a 69 year-old-floating voter became the battleground between Labour and Conservatives as they fought for electoral advantage over their record on running the NHS. The sequence of cancelled operations endured by Margaret Dixon, dubbed the "War of Margaret's Shoulder", triggered a dress rehearsal for the expected Spring election.

(See also The Independent, Mar. 4th 2005, p.1; The Times, Mar. 4th 2005, p.1; Daily Telegraph, Mar. 4th 2005, p.1)

SECTOR WANTS LADYMAN TO REVAMP LONG-TERM CARE FUNDING CRITERIA

P. Stephenson

Community Care, Mar.10th-16th 2005, p.16-17

There is confusion about the distinction between continuing care, a care package fully funded by the NHS for people whose primary care needs are health-related, and free nursing care, which covers nursing costs only. Many people with significant health needs are being given the highest nursing care contribution rather than continuing care. Government has responded by promising a new national assessment framework for continuing care.

SHAKE-UP AT HEALTH GROUP TO HEAD OFF DOWNTURN

N. Timmins

Financial Times, Mar. 16th 2005, p.5

Nuffield Hospitals, Britain's biggest not-for-profit private hospital group, is redesigning its business to offer private patients lower prices, National Health Service patients easy access and companies a more rounded healthcare programme. The moves come against falling NHS waiting times and the arrival of overseas companies that are providing treatment centres for the NHS, which could potentially offer cheaper treatment for private patients.

WHY THE NHS MONEY-GO-ROUND IS RUNNING OUT OF STEAM

H. Mooney and M.-L. Harding

Health Service Journal, vol.115, Mar. 3rd 2005, p.12-13

Under the new payment-by-results system, NHS trusts will not be allowed to balance their books by moving deficits to the following financial year or transferring funds from the capital to the revenue account. Finance Directors will have to apply international accounting standards and use modern financial planning techniques. Trusts which do not organise their finances properly may go under.

WOMEN IN NHS WIN LANDMARK RULING ON UNEQUAL PAY RATES

J. Laurance

The Independent, Mar. 15th 2005, p.17

A landmark agreement has opened the way for Britain's female health workers to make equal pay claims worth millions of pounds. More than 1,500 women who work for the NHS are expected to receive between £35,000 and £200,000 each in back-pay. The deal was agreed at North Cumbria Acute NHS trust and will apply to female staff working as cleaners, nurses, telephonists and supervisors.

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