NHS Finances

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:39 am on 14th March 2006.

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Photo of Andrew Lansley Andrew Lansley Shadow Secretary of State for Health 10:39 am, 14th March 2006

Sometimes, that is how the recovery plans are put together. In some instances, that is an acceptable way of dealing with things in a local health economy. What is unacceptable—I was going to come to this—is to go to the point at which the whole direction of reform in the NHS is being perverted. Taking one third of the addition to PCT allocations next year, which is what a 3 per cent. top-slicing on PCT allocations is, effectively says to PCTs across the country, "You can't plan on the basis of the cash increases you were anticipating for next year. All the growth money that might have been available for you next year is going to be taken away from you." In effect, all the decisions about system improvement and growth in the NHS next year will be determined by strategic health authorities, and probably taken away in order to use deficits, so there will be no growth next year as a consequence.

The incompetence has, I am afraid, extended to the tariff. On 22 February, the Department of Health told PCTs and trusts across the country that there is a severe and deteriorating position, while also telling them that the underlying errors in the tariff mean that they have no basis on which to calculate their business plans for the forthcoming year. It is a sorry tale of incompetence on the part of the Government, for which Ministers are accountable. Lord Warner at least had the grace to say, in another place, last Thursday, that he was responsible, and to apologise unreservedly. I hope that the Minister will do the same today.