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Senior hospital doctors slam funding changes

They warn NHS England of longer waiting times and avoidable deaths

Mark Gould

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Some 345 senior doctors and hospital chief executives have hit out at plans to reduce funding for specialised operations and treatments including some cancer care.

In a letter to NHS England, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, they say the changes could mean longer waiting lists and avoidable deaths. Under the plans, centres treating more patients than expected would receive just half the extra treatment costs.

NHS England says these services have already seen a big increase in funding with hospital providers receiving a £1bn rise in income over the last two years. But the proposals, due to come into force in April, aim to curb a growth in spending in this area so that more money can be diverted into mental health services, ambulance provision, A&E and GP services.

However, the letter says the proposals will leave hospitals with a choice of treating patients and incurring a financial loss, or not treating them at all.

"The clinical consequences of these longer waiting times and a lower quality service to patients with conditions such as heart disease, liver disease, leukaemia, complex cancers etc. will be severe," it reportedly says.

"There will inevitably be avoidable deaths as patients die on waiting lists or find that their disease has progressed during the wait for treatment, to the point that it is no longer curable."

A consultation period ends this week with a final decision expected early next year.

NHS England said in a statement: "We will listen carefully to all consultation responses on these proposals, while recognising that providers of specialised services have enjoyed income increases of over £1bn over the past two years."

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