Letters: Funds for NHS budget deficit

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The Independent Online
Sir: Health service funding ("NHS cut to the bone, say doctors", 25 June) will continue to be an issue while those of us who work for the health service are expected to do too much with too few resources. At some point a government (probably not this one) is going to have to talk openly about rationing and provide an appropriate level of funding to run the NHS properly.

Most health service professionals, not just doctors, are not going to take any government seriously until funding is up to around median OECD levels because we all know that the "bargain buy" that Nicholas Timmins talks about isn't just about health service efficiency, it is also about the exploitation of its staff ("... but is that just another easy soundbite?", 25 June). Most health service employees work far beyond their contracted hours out of a mixture of dedication, a desire not to neglect patients, worries about litigation and the pressure to meet targets arbitrarily set by government.

A substantial chunk of the pounds 6bn deficit could be mopped up either by appropriately rewarding existing health service personnel or more sensibly by raising staffing levels so that those of us who work for the health service already don't have to work the excessive hours that damage our own health and cause us to neglect our families.

Deciding where extra money should come from is a matter of setting priorities. I would respectfully suggest that this country stops playing at great nations, sets a realistic defence budget appropriate to the needs of a small trading nation in northern Europe (for that is what we actually are) and then set about providing a properly funded education and health service.

J R JAMES

Consultant Paediatrician

Northallerton,

North Yorkshire

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