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MPs to investigate NHS deficits

Health Select Committee launches inquiry into financial state of trusts

Following recent announcements signalling the loss of over 7,000 jobs at NHS trusts across the country, the Health Select Committee has launched an inquiry into the scale and source of financial problems that exist in the health service in England.

The inquiry will examine the current system of fund allocation within the NHS and the effect of financial difficulties on patients, as well as analysing the findings of so-called 'turn-around teams' sent in to help the worst trusts.

Evidence sessions for NHS workers and MPs will take place throughout the summer, after the audited accounts of trusts for 2005-6 become available.

The inquiry is not expected to conclude until the House of Commons comes back from its summer recess in October.

Kevin Barron, the Labour Chair of the Committee, told the BBC: ìBasically, the quest is to make sure that we can get evidence from the people that are handling the situation in the NHS.î

He said it was ìvitalî that the facts found by ìtroubleshootersî should be listened to, understood and acted on if deemed appropriate.

More than 1,300 jobs were cut last week alone - 650 have been shed in Barking Havering and Redbridge Hospitals, 150 by Barnsley District Hospital, 450 in the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and 60 in the Weston Hospital.

A survey by the Royal College of Nursing suggests that 13,000 jobs are to be cut in total, a third of whom may be nurses.

It is understood that the NHS will finish the financial year with a deficit of somewhere between the government's £600m prediction and the £1.2bn predicted by various other commentators.

30th September 2008

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