Government quizzed on NHS finances in Parliament
Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander raises urgent question after trusts revealed to be more than £900 million in debt
An urgent question has been raised in the House of Commons today about NHS finances, which the government concedes are ‘undoubtedly challenging’.
Heidi Alexander, the shadow health secretary, asked health minister Ben Gummer to make a statement on the health service’s financial performance.
It follows RCN general secretary Janet Davies speaking out on Friday after NHS foundation trusts were revealed to have ended the first three months of the financial year with an estimated net deficit of £445 million.
The 90 NHS trusts supervised by the NHS Trust Development Authority also ended the first quarter of the financial year £485 million in debt.
Speaking in Parliament today, Mr Gummer, the parliamentary under secretary of state for quality at the Department of Health, said: ‘The financial position of the NHS is undoubtedly challenging but it is important to recognise the wider public finance position driven by the calamitous deficit that the party opposite left us with.
‘In this context, this party, the party of the NHS, has prioritised funding for the NHS, committing an additional £10 billion over the lifetime of this parliament, starting with £2 billion this year.’
The minister added that other measures apart from additional spending are required and he said a package of measures to tackle agency spending by trusts has been introduced.
Since October 1, there has been a cap on how much each trust can spend on agency nurses and trusts have only been able to use certain central framework agreements for staffing.
Mr Gummer said ‘tough new controls on consultancy spending, executive pay and in supporting organisations to dispose of surplus land’ have also been introduced but the financial benefits would not have been seen in the first quarter figures.