Magazine article Public Finance

At the Cutting Edge

Magazine article Public Finance

At the Cutting Edge

Article excerpt

The appointment of Sir Ian Carruthers as a kind of 'cuts czar' -charged with wanning support for hospital reconfigurations brings to mind several thoughts. Most of them include the words 'bolted' and 'stable door'.

The erstwhile acting head of the NHS has been asked by the health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, to conduct a six-month review - described by some as a 'sanity check' - of the proposed hospital cuts and closures. He is expected to tell trusts that it might be a good idea to win support from clinicians and the general public before announcing reconfiguration plans. Meanwhile, all hell is already breaking loose around the country.

This week, protesters converged on Westminster to lobby MPs over NHS cuts and privatisation. At a local level, angry demonstrations have erupted in the areas threatened with closures. There is dark talk of the biggest popular protests since the poll tax.

All of which is deeply unwelcome news for the government - and manna from heaven for the Opposition, which has been making political hay over the hotly disputed level of NHS redundancies.

But how, after years of doubling health expenditure, slashing waiting lists, and improving clinical care, has it finally come to this? …

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