St George’s Hospital’s £10m deficit latest NHS debate in battle for Tooting seat

St George’s Hospital has run up a deficit of £10m, sparking debate among Tooting’s parliamentary candidates over the state of the NHS.

The news comes despite the Tooting-based hospital planning to run a £5m surplus this financial year.

As concern grows over the effect this will have on patient care Tooting’s Labour parliamentary candidate, Sadiq Khan, feels the blame lies with the coalition government.

“The news that our very own St George’s now has a huge deficit of £10 million should be a worry to us all,” he said.

“I know how hard all of the hospital staff work, but they have been let down by this government.

“Instead of spending money on patient care, the government wasted £3 billion on a top-down reorganisation NHS which they promised they wouldn’t do.

“This together with the government’s lack of planning for a winter crisis, has hit our hospital hard – and now we’re all going to pay the price.”

Having already made £45m worth of cuts last year, the hospital will now reportedly have to cut a further £43m in the next financial year.

In response to Mr Khan’s comments, Tooting’s Conservative parliamentary candidate, Dan Watkins, chose to focus on the successes of St George’s work.

“Clearly, they have a challenge, they’re behind plan in terms of their finances and they made everyone aware of that, but they equally do have a plan of what they need to do to get back to where they need to be,” he said.

“I think we also need to keep it in context, £10m is a lot of money but in terms of the overall budget of St George’s, which is hundreds of millions of pounds, it is actually not as huge as you might think.

“St George’s is actually a success story, it is treating more patients better than it ever has been before.”

Mr Watkins was referring to the investment St George’s has received over the last four years, resulting in 400 more doctors and nurses being hired and the 17% increase in operations it undertakes each year.

As the largest healthcare provider in southwest London, St George’s significant deficit could have widespread repercussions.

However its CEO, Miles Scott, stressed that the issue is not limited to St George’s and that they are able to resolve the problem.

“The situation at St George’s is not an isolated one,” he said.

“Nationally, the NHS is under unprecedented pressure with a growing population needing access to treatment.

“We have plans in place to manage the increased demands on our services and are looking ahead to identify savings where they are possible.

“Our dedicated staff continue to deliver the best quality of care during this period of increased pressure.

“Maintaining the safety of our patients is, and always will be, the absolute priority for the trust.”

Image courtesy of BBC via YouTube, with thanks

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