£100m bill for reforms

A protest takes place outside Sheffied Town Hall against the Health and Social Care bill which could lead to parts of the NHS being privatised

A protest takes place outside Sheffied Town Hall against the Health and Social Care bill which could lead to parts of the NHS being privatised

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CONTROVERSIAL plans to shake up the NHS will cost South Yorkshire nearly £100 million to implement, The Star can reveal today.

Government plans to abolish Primary Care Trusts and put commissioning in the hands of GPs are already slotting into place, despite the fact the proposals have not yet passed through Parliament.

Now it has emerged the Government has told health bosses in Sheffield to put aside £38m - two per cent of its budget - over two years to implement the reforms.

Rotherham will have to use £18m for the changes, Barnsley £18m and Doncaster £21m - totalling £95m for South Yorkshire.

Trade unions, Labour MPs and patients have labelled the costs ‘outrageous’ and ‘indefensible’ - and called for the reforms to be scrapped.

The money will have to come out of budgets already squeezed by Government cutbacks.

And it could mean job losses and longer waiting times.

Sheffield Central Labour MP Paul Blomfield said: “It’s outrageous the Government is telling Sheffield NHS to hold back nearly £38 million for this reckless reorganisation, while patient care is being squeezed and waiting lists are increasing. It’s money that should be going to front-line care.”

Sheffield resident Maureen Stoneman, from Owlthorpe, told The Star: “I’ve been a patient for many years and have seen the best and worst of national health.

“I’m very proud our hospitals have been named the best in the North of England - but, already we are beginning to see the results of the government’s policies.

“I find it incredible the government is going to waste money on a completely unnecessary NHS reorganization, at the same time as it is cutting winter fuel payments, working tax credits and spending on lots of other services because it says they can’t be afforded.”

Joan Keane, regional officer for the GMB union, said: “That £100m should be put into care. They are telling every trust to cut costs, but then spending the money on this reorganisation.

“The NHS is being asset-stripped. I don’t blame the trusts - they have been told to make savings. But staff members are finding it harder and harder to do their jobs.”

The revelation comes after Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, which runs the city’s five adult hospitals, announced it is struggling to make £40m of cutbacks this year.

At the moment it is on track to miss the £40m target by £7m - just over 20 per cent.

Charlie Carruth, regional organiser for Unison, said the NHS had already suffered years of reform under the previous Labour Government.

“It is a little soul-destroying we are going back into another round of reforms. The only way to save money is by cutting back staff and resources.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “David Cameron’s wasteful reorganisation is costing the NHS even more than we first feared. This is totally indefensible and people in Barnsley will be appalled.”

And Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey added: “It is scandalous they are telling our NHS to hold back millions of pounds for their own reckless plans whilst thousands of nursing jobs are being axed.”

Nobody at Sheffield PCT was available for comment but Government sources said when Labour was in power Ministers also asked PCTs to hold back two per cent of budgets for their own projects.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said suggesting the reorganisation would cost £3.5bn was a ‘large overestimate’.

She said: “We anticipate costs of £1.2 to 1.3bn over the lifetime of parliament, which will be vastly outweighed by the savings. Over this Parliament, modernisation will save £3.2bn. We will save £1.5bn each year from 2014/15 onwards.”

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