Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has urged hospitals to delay operations until the new financial year in April to help manage the prevailing situation regarding financial deficit in U.K. The following move is expected to improve or rather eliminate all forms of financial shortcomings in the years to come.
Ms Hewitt said: "I understand the anxiety patients will feel if they are living in an area where their hospital or Primary care trust (PCT) is in deficit ... Some hospitals would dearly love to get rid of all waits in the next six months, but the funding is not there to do it." In some areas it made sense for PCTs to set a minimum wait of six months for non-emergency surgery until they got their finances under control. "Any trust that is overspending is relying on another part of the country - possibly with greater health needs - to bail them out ... Of course it is frustrating for people who are being told to wait six months when the hospital could do [the operation] in four. But it's better than where we were not long ago when the waits were enormous."
The decision has been taken following various organizations that appealed to the Government to rescue patients from financial failure faced by hospitals. Continuation of the existing trend has been forecasted to reach Ģ620m across England by the end of March.
The decision has raised mixed reactions among members of the scientific community. Some people feel that the above proposal would further aggravate the existing financial crisis due to reduction in the hospital revenue as a consequence of longer waiting times for surgical procedure. Furthermore, they have also expressed necessity of an independent "NHS administrator" to restore stability and thereby earn patient trust and confidence. Ultimately, the patients should in no way be denied access to health care.
"Patients will be the real losers if trusts are forced to cut services just to balance their books on March 31 instead of being allowed to use financial management techniques that private companies use routinely", said Mr. Edwards, policy director of the NHS. In addition, he has also said that the hospitals should be allowed to restructure their debt on a long tem basis to avoid such situations.