Liberal Democrats uncover secret health budget cuts

Haringey’s health budget could be slashed by £10 million over the next two years in a bid to bail out failing health trusts in the capital. Information revealed by Haringey Liberal Democrats shows that a London-wide strategy aims to impose a 1.3% levy on prudent Primary Care Trusts (PCT) to settle debts in other London areas.

PCTs are also not going to get back ‘top-slices’ taken in previous years – which means that Haringey health trust could fail to recover another £10 million ‘lent’ to other health trusts.

Liberal Democrats have criticised the secrecy surrounding the issue and have called on health bosses and Haringey Council to come clean on what they know.

It is understood that discussions have been ongoing for some months. However, in an answer to a written question tabled by Cllr David Winskill to Haringey Council’s ‘watchdog’ committee, it emerged that Haringey Council had to resort to looking at the PCT’s website to find out what is going on. It is claimed by Haringey Council that the PCT refused to give more information.

Cllr David Winskill comments:

“This is a dreadful situation. We had a similar ‘top-slice’ two years ago and cuts in services were forced on the people of Haringey with no debate or discussion. It is incredible that, despite an apology form the chairman of NHS London over how the cuts were imposed, Haringey PCT is making the same mistakes again and paying lip-service to the idea of partnership working.”

Cllr Nigel Scott, Liberal Democrat Health spokesperson, adds

“There seems to be gaping holes in the alleged partnership between Haringey Council and the democratically unaccountable Health Trust. Haringey Council seems blissfully unaware of the proposal that could see Haringey’s residents losing out on £20 million of health funding.

“We have called for a joint statement by Haringey Council and the PCT setting out the details of the budget reduction, their likely impact on services and what actions Haringey Council and PCT will take to mitigate that impact.”

Lynne Featherstone MP, adds:

“Once again we see that the trusts that have managed to balance their budgets in difficult times are being asked to bail out other areas where, for whatever reason, costs have not been kept under control.Haringey has many pressing health needs.Its planned budget was thought necessary to meet these needs.It should be protected for the patients of Haringey.”