Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Health Service Is in a Critical Condition' Doctors Accuse NHS Managers of Putting Profits before Patients

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'Health Service Is in a Critical Condition' Doctors Accuse NHS Managers of Putting Profits before Patients

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

LEADING doctors in the North East have launched at stinging attack on the Government over what they claim are serious financial threats to the NHS. In the blistering attack they say: NHS managers are secretly preparing plans to cut millions from the NHS; The introduction of 'competition' based healthcare is a waste of valuable resources which should be used for patient care; Hundreds of thousands of pounds is spent on private treatment centres which can get up to three times the funding per patient as regular GP practices; The Government backed Private Finance Initiative is a costly way of building new hospitals, leaving a huge debt to pay over coming decades.

Their attack comes in a letter from GP, consultant and specialist representatives in Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland.

They say initiatives such as walk-in centres - like Battle Hill Health Centre in North Tyneside and Ponteland Road in Newcastle - have cost a fortune to build and have not provided value for money. The letter is signed by chairmen and secretaries from the British Medical Association North East Regional Council, local medical committees in Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Northumberland, chairmen from Northern Regional Consultants and Specialists Committee, Northern Regional Junior Doctors Committee and Northern Regional Staff and Associate Specialists Committee.

They say: "The North East BMA wants an NHS with patients not profits at its heart.

"Every day NHS staff see the waste of taxpayers' money caused by politicians' fixation with a market based ideology.

"In the North East we have seen hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on private treatment centres despite the many examples of Independent Sector Treatment Centres, which are often run by large multi-national companies, being paid up front by the NHS for operations that have not even taken place."

One issue is the use of controversial GP-led health centres, which offer walk-in access to a range of services. The letter says: "Not only are these centres are costly to build, but some enjoy up to three times the funding per patient of regular GP practices. …

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