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Over half a billion 'pumped into cash-strapped NHS'

The government has had to prop up cash-strapped NHS trusts and foundations with over half a billion pounds in emergency funds this year, a "deeply alarming" report from auditors said.

The gross deficit for NHS trusts has risen £447 million in one year. Credit: PA

An extra £511 million was spent on bailing out struggling NHS trusts in 2013-14 alone, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

This was double the £263 million given to failing trusts the year before as funds had to be diverted to an extra 16 trusts which had not previously needed extra cash.

Some 25 NHS trusts had fallen into the red by the end of 2012/13, but this number has more than doubled over the last 12 months and peaked at 63, the NAO said.

The report said the gross deficit of health trusts rose by 150% from £297 million in 2012/13 to £743 million in 2013/14.

Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the Public Accounts Committee, said the "deeply alarming report" showed the future sustainability of the NHS was at risk.

Doctors 'have a duty to cut waste' in NHS services

Maintaining NHS services depends on doctors ensuring the best use of resources, according to a report.

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said a series of "relatively simple measures" could create savings of nearly £2 billion which could be reinvested to improve patient care and raise NHS standards.

Its study found 16 examples of changes to clinical practice which have saved money and benefited patients. Credit: PA

Recommending 16 examples of changes to clinical practice, the report called on improving doctors' awareness of adverse drug reactions, particularly among elderly patients, which account for 6% of hospital admissions and could save £466 million.

Its chairman, Professor Terence Stephenson, said:

Delivering quality care and promoting value are really two sides of the same coin. One doctor's waste is another patient's delay; potentially it could be another patient's lack of treatment.

– Professor Terence Stephenson, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges

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NHS could trial tax breaks for volunteers

Today's five-year plan for the NHS calls for an expanded role for volunteers in providing healthcare. Its recommendations include:

  • Better support for England's 5.5 million unpaid carers
  • Expanding opportunities for volunteers to work alongside NHS staff
  • Testing idea of tax breaks for NHS volunteers
  • Building stronger ties with charities and voluntary organisations
  • Making local NHS funding simpler and more accessible to charitable groups

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ITV News Poll: Should firms provide incentives for people to lose weight?

One of the proposals announced today by the Chief Executive of NHS England is for firms to provide incentives for their staff to lose weight and stay healthy. The thinking is that then saves money for the NHS because it reduces the numbers of people needing treatment.

We want to know what you think. Would that be a good idea? Or is it placing undue pressure on overweight people. Take part in our poll below.

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Unite: Report paints 'very bleak' picture of NHS funding

The head of the Unite union, Rachael Maskell, has said that the plan published by the NHS today makes it clear that it will not avoid a funding black hole.

[NHS England head] Simon Stevens makes precious little mention of the plummeting morale of the 1.3 million workforce, which is becoming a worrying pattern for this Government with its continued failure to invest in skills, retention and development.

In the last four years, the NHS has been battered by the funding crisis, resulting in £20 billion being sucked out of the service during this parliament.

The picture remains very bleak and it is clear that the plan will not plug the predicted £30 billion financial black hole by 2020/21.

– Rachael Maskell, unite

NHS report 'endorses key planks of Labour's plan'

Labour's shadow health secretary Andy Burnham has said that today's five-year forecast for the NHS "endorses key planks of Labour's plan".

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham

He said he agrees with the report's finding that primary care has been under-resourced and called on the government to stop cuts to the budget for GPs.

Mr Burnham also noted that the report "does not give one mention to competition" and says the Coalition should review its competition rules.

While the Health Secretary denied that the report endorses Labour's vision, he said there were large parts of it that Labour and the Conservatives "can agree on".

Health Secretary: NHS plan is 'essentially optimistic'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has called today's five-year plan for the NHS an "essentially positive and optimistic" vision of the future of the health service in England.

In his statement to the House of Commons, in response to an urgent question from Labour's Andy Burnham, he said the report calls for a "change in culture about the way we care for people" rather than structural change.

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