Letters: Funds for NHS budget deficit

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The Independent Online
Sir: Nicholas Timmins has been a distinguished and admired contributor to your columns for many years, but he has now reached a new peak in his understanding of the National Heath Service in being able to rap the silly doctors' knuckles for their gross exaggeration of NHS funding needs, and to assert, with absolute confidence, that the funding deficit is "at most a few hundred million".

It would be a great comfort to those of us concerned with health services if he could share his arithmetic with us. His view, however, does not square with the position in individual purchasing authorities where shortfalls of pounds 20m-pounds 30m are currently being identified or in Trusts which are so well funded that they have to stop elective surgery completely.

In truth, as Mr Timmins must know, the level of the deficit is difficult to estimate to a high degree of accuracy. For years, however, the recurring indications have been that it is around five per cent - pounds 2bn on the pounds 40bn currently expended.

It is depressing and demoralising that the NHS, which overall delivers an outstandingly effective and economical service to the nation, should be prevented from realising its full potential for the benefit of the public by virtue of such a proportionally small deficit.

RONALD M POLLOCK

International Health

Planning Consultant

London, NW1

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