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Home Industry News Funding puts children’s hospitals under threat, says Lib Dem MP

Funding puts children’s hospitals under threat, says Lib Dem MP

18th April 2006

The Liberal Democrat health spokesman, Steve Webb, has said that the UK’s leading children’s hospitals “may have to cut back on life-saving and vital care for children” because of the way they are funded.

On BBC Radio Four’s Today programme, Mr Webb attacked the payment-by-results system and said that children’s hospitals could be millions of pounds over budget because they cannot offset the costs of expensive treatments against other types of treatments, unlike NHS trusts.

He said: “There’s nothing wrong in principle with paying a hospital according to exactly what it is doing instead of giving it a big block contract, that’s not a bad idea, but it needs a very gradual change to give hospitals a chance to get used to these new ways of working and to get the figures right.

“And what these children’s hospitals are saying is they’ve been talking to the government for 18 months now and the government isn’t really listening, isn’t really calibrating what’s going on precisely enough,” Mr Webb added.

The bosses of some of the UK’s most famous children’s hospitals, including Great Ormond Street, Sheffield, Birmingham and Alder Hey, have written to the health minister, Jane Kennedy, to warn of their projected losses of up to ?22 million and possible cuts to services.

The government has denied that this represents a problem in general with the payment-by-results system, and a Department of Health spokesman added that they do not recognise the ?22 million shortfall figure.

track© Adfero Ltd

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