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NHS trusts heading for bankruptcy
The NHS funding crisis continues to deepen with NHS trusts in England reporting a £822 million deficit for 2014-15. Foundation Trusts (FTs - which are largely unaccountable to the public and operate semi-independently of the NHS) reported a £349 million deficit compared to a planned £10 million deficit.
One major factor in the rising deficits was the amount forked out by trusts to buy in contract and agency staff - a consequence of permanent staff shortages.
NHS trusts spent a staggering £1.8 billion on temporary workers - double the expected bill. The lack of permanent staff has also increased waiting times and worsened patient care.
FTs were established by the last Labour government and are expected to 'compete' to secure sufficient income. In reality, despite cost-cutting, FTs have been spending their cash reserves but many are now running out of money.
The Tory government says it will increase the NHS budget £8 billion a year by 2020. However, NHS England will have to make £22 billion "efficiency savings" ie cuts, by that date.
Privatisation wrecking hospitals
Barts NHS Trust in east London, the largest NHS trust in England, has been criticised as "inadequate" by the Care Quality Commission.
This criticism follows an earlier CQC report which placed Whipps Cross Hospital (one of four acute hospitals run by the trust) into 'special measures'. That CQC report highlighted a culture of bullying management and an over-reliance on agency staff.
Recently, long-serving health worker and trade unionist at Whipps Cross Hospital, Charlotte Munro, was reinstated in her job following a successful employment tribunal. She was sacked in October 2013 by a hostile management who claimed she had "brought the trust into disrepute".
Charlotte, alongside other trade union activists, had questioned the cuts (including the 'downbanding' of staff) being made by the trust.
These cuts are a result of a £93 million deficit caused by a rip-off Private Finance Initiative contract to redevelop the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. Socialist Party members at Whipps Cross campaigned for industrial action to defeat the cuts and PFI.
This privatisation measure is costing Barts £2 million a week to service, draining it of vitally needed resources. At the same time the PFI contract has, so far, made the private companies involved £150 million in profit.
PFI was first introduced under the Major Tory government but then rapidly expanded by Labour under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
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