December 5, 2007 12:54 PM
David Howarth MP

David Howarth MP



The Cambridge MP, David Howarth, has asked for a Common's Adjournment Debate on health service surpluses.

Mr Howarth said: "We have witnessed some truly tragic cuts to services in Cambridge , such as the closure of the Young People's Psychiatric Service, because health service managers locally told us they had to balance the books and now a year later we find out the local PCT was not in deep in debt after all.

"We need a freeze on the closure of other services like Brookfields Hospital in Cambridge until the position has been clarified. I have no confidence in the management of health service finances locally, regionally or nationally and I shall be asking for an adjournment debate in the Commons to discuss the surpluses.

"The NHS is not a company, it is not there to make profits for its shareholders, it is a public organization that is there to provide efficient services for tax payers. It is not acceptable to lurch from bust one year to boom the next.

"If the NHS is in surplus we need to spend our own SHA surpluses and to see if the surpluses elsewhere in the Country can be used to the advantage of Cambridgeshire which has a growing population and an unfair funding formula."

Mr Howarth's Parliamentary Question to the Department of Health was instrumental in unmasking the full extent of NHS surpluses. He had asked why Brookfields hospital had to close when vast amounts of public money was lying unspent elsewhere in the accounts of strategic health authorities.

Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats have called the multi million pound under-spend in the NHS an "insult" to local council tax payers.

Their Health Spokesman - Councillor Geoff Heathcock said: "I have lost trust in the management of the health service at a national, regional and local level. Cambridgeshire's growing population means it has special needs. If there are NHS surpluses nationally then they should be used to help us fill our funding gaps. We need a new system of dividing these surpluses up to ensure the funding formulas nationally are fair to all."

Nationally Ministers have said that any surplus will be put back into patient care next year.

The NHS in the east of England is now forecasting a surplus of £90 million, just over 0.1% of the budget. It has said surpluses made by individual PCTs will be protected for use by that PCT to invest in future patient services. Surpluses in one PCT will not be used against deficits in other PCTs.

Cambridgeshire Primary Care Trust is on target to achieve an overall financial balance by March 2008, as well as contribute £10 million towards its £52 million historic debt.


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