Concern over health funding cut

AN MP has warned of impending cutbacks in frontline health services due to cuts in funding from the Government.Primary care trusts, which run doctors surgeries and clinics, have been given their final budget allocations for 2005/6 by the Government.

AN MP has warned of impending cutbacks in frontline health services due to cuts in funding from the Government.

Primary care trusts, which run doctors surgeries and clinics, have been given their final budget allocations for 2005/6 by the Government.

Health Minister Rosie Winterton has cut the budgets of three trusts in north Essex because they went into the red in the last financial year.

She said the reductions were necessary to recover overspends and the funding would be returned to NHS organisations delivering underspends in 2004-5.


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Chelmsford PCT has seen its budget slashed by £7.137 million, Witham, Braintree and Halstead PCT's allocation has been cut by £3.148 million and Maldon and South Chelmsford has lost £1.492 million.

West Chelmsford MP Simon Burns said he is “very concerned” about the budget cut, which he predicted will result in “even greater hardships” for Chelmsford PCT.

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Mr Burns said: “At a time when the PCT is suffering from a considerable financial deficit due to the funding discrimination from central Government, which means that funding per head in the Chelmsford PCT area is well under both the England average and the Essex average, I think it is a great worry that the NHS should be reclaiming this money.

“This will result in even greater financial difficulties for Chelmsford PCT and will mean that the Trust will have to work exceptionally hard to ensure that frontline services are not hampered or cut back.

“I fear it will ultimately be my constituents who will suffer from this move.”

Norma O'Hara, spokeswoman for Chelmsford and Witham, Braintree and Halstead PCTs, said: “The reduction in the allocation for 05/06 reflects the overspend in the previous year.

“As health organisations if we overspend we have to pay it back in the following year. Both trusts took this into account and planned for this in the three-year recovery plan.”

Last year, Chelmsford PCT went £7.1 million into the red and was forecasting a deficit of £11.2 million for 2005-6 and is currently being assessed by a turnaround team.

Mr Burns said: “Although everyone recognises that the Government have made extra money available to the NHS, it is quite clear from the dire financial situation at Chelmsford PCT that this money is not getting through sufficiently to frontline services.”

He added: “It is appalling that we have already seen a halving of the intermediate care beds in Chelmsford and I fear, despite the ministers comments, that we will see further cutbacks in frontline services to rectify this problem.”

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