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BMA questions NHS surplus

31st August 2007

Following the publication of a quarterly report from the Department of Health earlier this week, the British Medical Association (BMA) has questioned predictions of a surplus in the health service.

The quarterly report has predicted the NHS will see a surplus of 983 million for the current financial year.

While accepting that a surplus is preferable to a deficit, the BMA claims that this surplus has been achieved through cuts in services, with delays to operations, cancellation of outpatient clinics and referral management schemes, in what the association has described as “only thinly disguised forms of rationing”.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: “There are still hospitals that are threatening to lay off hundreds of staff in order to break even.

“Budgets that used to be set aside for the training of doctors and nurses have been raided, with long-term consequences for the future NHS workforce.”

He added that healthcare education funding has been moved away from universities with a consequent adverse affect on academic medicine.

On publication of its quarterly report, health secretary Alan Johnson stated that the NHS is now on a “sustainable financial footing”, with increased efficiencies facilitating the better use of resources to improve access and tackle hospital-based infections.

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