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Health Authorities (Financial Plans)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3rd February 1981.

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Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham 12:00 am, 3rd February 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects health authorities to be in a position to formulate definite financial plans for the financial year 1981–82.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

I hope to be able to notify regional health authorities of their volume allocations for capital and revenue within the next few days.

Photo of Mr Roger Moate Mr Roger Moate , Faversham

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Kent area health authority has published contingency plans for a 2 per cent, cut, based on the possibility of underfunding of the amount in the coming year? Does he agree that the authority is being unduly alarmist? Does he also agree, however, that it emphasises the importance of moderate wage settlements within the cash limits?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

It is always wise for treasurers to make reasonable provisions, because the future cannot be known with certainty. I certainly agree that when we set the cash limits it will be most important that settlements are made within the cash limit factor, because otherwise the money will have to come out of services for patients.

Photo of Mrs Jill Knight Mrs Jill Knight , Birmingham, Edgbaston

In the context of financial planning, has my right hon. Friend met with any success in dealing with the well-documented suggestions that there is fairly wide-scale abuse by hospital staff, particularly in the pilfering of hospital equipment and food and the making of false claims for overtime by maintenance and ancillary staff? Is he aware that it is said that the cost to the NHS is at least £50 million a year? Will he comment on that?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

If my hon. Friend has any evidence to support those allegations, they should be investigated by local health authorities, which are maintaining tight security on such matters. If it is suspected that pilfering is going on, it is right that they should do that.

Photo of Mr Allen McKay Mr Allen McKay , Penistone

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware of the financial position of the Trent regional authority, which has been the Cinderella authority for a considerable time? Is he making any provision in the financial arrangements to enable the Trent authority to catch up with the others?

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

The hon. Gentleman knows that in the current year the increase in the volume allocation to the Trent authority was twice that of the four Thames regions.