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Commons committee chair urges DH bosses to deal with NHS budget concerns

Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, has demanded more information from the Department of Health on recent NHS budget cuts.

In a letter following the recent inquiry by the Commons Select Committee, Hillier called on the DH to clarify issues surrounding the upcoming end to the public sector pay cap.

Addressed to the department’s permanent secretary, Sir Chris Wormald, the letter brings up a number of queries about cutting services to reduce spending.

Hillier questions the current government policy on NHS spending, pointing to repeated capital fund investment asking whether the policies can be sustainable in the long term. She says the service must be provided with the infrastructure and assets to work effectively – rather than being topped up by government when operations are struggling.

There is also mention of delayed transfers of care (DToC) which have recently risen and placed more stress on an already struggling system.

The letter requests clarification as to the reasoning behind certain measures, such as the Vale of York CCG’s policy of not providing smokers over a certain BMI treatment unless they quit smoking or lose weight. Hillier wanted more information on whether this policy was medically or financially motivated.

Closing, the letter refers back to the future end of the NHS pay cap, specifically questioning the funds which would be provided to make the change possible.

It says: “The decision on public sector pay is welcome but this places huge pressure on already struggling budgets if the commitment is not supported by additional funding.

“The committee will, again, want to hear more about your progress at future evidence sessions.”

Wormald, along with David Williams, gave evidence to the committee last month and are expected to return for more testimony in the future.

Top image: PA Archive

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