Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    MP Challenges Minister on Hertfordshire NHS Deficit

    Peter Lilley, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, today asked the Health Minister during Parliamentary Questions to comment on the alarming deficits faced by the NHS in Hertfordshire which were known to Ministers before the general election, but which have only been revealed since. He pointed out that measures to reduce these deficits threatened A&E provision; would force ward closures; and could undermined the case for a new hospital in Hatfield. The Minister refused to comment on these financial problems.

    Peter Lilley said: “Since I joined my colleagues earlier this week in seeking a meeting with the Secretary of State for Health, the scale of the problem facing the NHS in Hertfordshire has become more apparent. It now appears that without emergency measures, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust alone would face a deficit in 2005/06 of ?30.5million.

    “Cuts of over ?10 million are planned this year to reduce this deficit to an initial maximum deficit of ?19 million with further reductions in the two years following.

    “The cuts will include, for example, ?1.2 million savings through reduced ?theatre utilisation and rationalisation of surgical services?; another ?? million through ?reduction in surgical activity?; ?450,000 through ?acute ward closures?; ?250,000 though abandoning the promised ? Hemel Birth Centre?; and ?1?million on ?prescribing?.

    “Some indication of how much money has been wasted on bureaucratic overheads is the recognition that ?corporate management costs? can be cut by ?2?million.

    “These alarming figures make it even more important that our meeting with the Secretary of State for Health takes place to establish how best to protect the health services that people in Hertfordshire have a right to expect.