Gloucestershire Strategic Health Authority
Oral Answers to Questions — Health
Patricia Hewitt (Secretary of State, Department of Health; Leicester West, Labour)
My hon. Friend is absolutely right about the need for transparency, but there was no such transparency in the past. Underspending areas, often in much poorer parts of the country, were constantly bailing out overspending areas of the NHS, which were often in the better off and healthier parts of the country. We are creating the transparency that my hon. Friend mentioned, as well as asking each strategic health authority to ensure that its area returns to balance. Where an organisation is overspending, and particularly if it is going to take more than a year to get back into balance, other organisations will have to hold back on the improvements that they want to make. However, that all needs to be open, transparent and understood. In particular, the organisations that are overspending need to take decisions—difficult though some of them will be—to ensure that they give their patients the best possible care within the substantially increased budgets that we are continuing to give them.