NHS cash is being wasted, claims MP

VITAL NHS funding is being “wasted” and is not getting through to frontline services, it was claimed last night. Simon Burns, the MP for West Chelmsford, said although extra money had been poured into the NHS, much of it was being spent on bureaucracy.

VITAL NHS funding is being “wasted” and is not getting through to frontline services, it was claimed last night.

Simon Burns, the MP for West Chelmsford, said although extra money had been poured into the NHS, much of it was being spent on bureaucracy.

Figures from the Department of Health have revealed there are fewer beds available now in mid Essex than there were a decade ago when the Conservatives left office.

But last night, Mid Essex Hospital Trust, which runs Broomfield and St John's hospitals in Chelmsford, said that, although there were less beds, there had been a shift in the way services were provided.


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Figures given to Mr Burns following a Parliamentary question showed that in 1997, mid Essex had 888 beds, a figure that has fallen to 809 now.

The number of beds has dropped in recent years because of the closure of the intermediate care wards at St John's Hospital.

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Tory MP Mr Burns said: “I have always complained that the massive amount of extra money that is rightly being put into the NHS is being wasted and not getting to frontline services in sufficient quantities. The fall in beds in mid Essex illustrates this.

“This just shows how the extra money is not getting through to frontline services but being wasted elsewhere.”

He claimed locally and nationally money was being wasted treating people who were not eligible for NHS care, such as holidaymakers and overseas businessmen and through over-prescribing of drugs.

But last night the Department of Health said nationally the situation was better than ever.

A spokeswoman said: “More patients are being treated faster and more effectively than ever before by the NHS, whilst the number of beds has been steadily and deliberately reducing since 1959. This is because the way we deliver healthcare has changed, reflecting advances in care and medicine.

“Where more beds are needed, there are more beds. For example, in day surgery, the number of day-only beds has increased by more than 40% since 1997 and we now have 65% more critical care beds and 50% more intermediate care beds than we had in 2000.

“But demand for beds has fallen as hospitals are able to do more procedures as day cases, as technology allows shorter lengths of inpatient stays and as we learn to keep people with long-term conditions supported in their own homes. The experts all agree that this is the best way to deliver healthcare to patients.”

A spokeswoman for Mid Essex Hospital Services Trust said: “The reduction in the number of beds at the hospitals reflects changing ways services are delivered within the trust, such as admitting more patients on the day of operations and seeing more patients as day cases.”

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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