BMA dismayed by hospital cash shortages

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The Independent Online
DOCTORS' leaders yesterday demanded an urgent meeting with Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, to discuss the crisis enveloping hospitals as many close beds and halt operations because they have run out of money.

The British Medical Association expressed its deep concern over the failure of the reorganised National Health Service to prevent recurring cash shortages towards the end of the financial year. Hospital consultants revealed last week that they had been told to stop treating non-urgent cases because contracts paid for by health authorities had been completed and no more money would be forthcoming.

However, they added that a two-tier system was developing as GPs who control their own budgets were still able to refer patients to local hospitals that had otherwise ceased treatments.

Yesterday, the BMA's general medical services committee heard evidence that non-fundholding GPs were experiencing greater difficulties in getting patients treated.

Dr Jeremy Lee-Potter, chairman of the BMA council, said he would be seeking a meeting with Mrs Bottomley. 'Doctors are dismayed their predictions that the reforms would not solve the NHS's problems are being confirmed,' he said. 'The NHS has proved its efficiency . . . What is now needed is a fresh look at the level of resources which would ensure that the NHS can provide the care that the public requires.'

Mrs Bottomley said she would consider meeting the BMA, but said the Government was spending pounds 100m each day on the NHS.