Wednesday, June 06, 2007

How not to balance the books

So the NHS not only turned about its deficit last year but had a £500m surplus.

This is not a good thing when waiting lists are on the increase, operations cancelled, junior doctors cannot find work, hospitals are unclean and patients and staff are just generally fed up.

The NHS is not a profit making organisation - a £500m surplus is as bad as a £500m deficit as it implies that more emphasis has been placed on cost-cutting than on patient care. Still, I'm sure that there have been plenty of clip boards purchased.

The NHS is in a real mess at the moment and the government are doing nothing about it other than claiming everything is better than under the Tories (a decade ago).


Jeff said...

I agree that that £500m could have been spent somewhere and that would be nice. But just to put it into context a bit, the NHS cost £85billion in 2004. No doubt it costs a lot more with Labour's (over?) generous additions to the fund.

But using the 2004 figures, the surplus is 0.59% of the total. It is less than the difference bewteen something costing a pound or 99p. And the money will just be added to the fund for next year.

If they have balanced the books with a mere £500m to spare, then they have done a very good job indeed. My concern is that if you scratch the surface of these accounts you'll find no end of black holes.

I know people who have audited NHS trusts and they are an absolute shambles, but fingers crossed they've pulled it out the bag.

A culture of needing to spend every last penny on offer, to maximise saving lives, would lead to total chaos and ultimately cause more problems than solutions.

I sympathise though, I wanted Patricia Hewitt to screw it up too ;)

Louise said...

Fair point Jeff, but if a £500m deficit is something dreadful with "something needing to be done" than similarly the other way.