Failing Health of PCT Budgets Is Making Councils Sick

Hounslow Leader blasts 'crippling' debts being passed onto local authorities

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Giving primary care trusts the opportunity to pass crippling debts onto local authorities has been blasted by the leader of Hounslow Council.

Speaking in support of London Council’s Leaders’ Committee, which yesterday expressed dismay that at least £22 million worth of healthcare costs are being shunted from debt-ridden primary care trusts on to the capital’s boroughs, Cllr Peter Thompson said,“Local authorities’ have fallen victim to the Government’s inability to manage the NHS.

“While we are keen to support and work in partnership with our local primary care trust - who we enjoy a constructive and positive relationship with and have sympathy for their position - we should not be charged with bailing them out of their financial difficulties.

“In Hounslow this year, we froze Council Tax by making some difficult decisions, but without significant cuts in service provision. We are careful with our residents’ money and will continue that ethos. However, cost shunting like this, coupled with poor local government financial settlements, will almost certainly make council tax rises inevitable.”

The NHS in London is facing severe financial difficulties, and is currently projecting a revised financial deficit of £55 million.

Since last year, London council leaders have expressed concerns that PCT’s could adopt short-term solutions to their budget problems such as cutting services for vulnerable people and shunting costs on to boroughs.

London Councils has repeatedly requested an urgent meeting with Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, to discuss these concerns but have been turned down on each occasion - despite mounting evidence that cost-shunting is taking place.

May 10, 2007