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Cutting hospital stays 'putting patient care at risk'

By Nigel Praities

MPs have raised concerns over the efficiency drive the Government is planning in the NHS, saying it risks compromising patient care.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee questions the Department of Health's drive to reduce costs, saying moves to make a £300m saving by reducing hospital length of stay were ‘statistically unsound'.

The reports points to a rising rate of emergency readmissions as evidence that the Departments approach is flawed.

Edward Leigh MP, Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: 'It is of the utmost importance that the NHS achieves value for money from its funding and that productivity is continuously driven up.

‘What must be demonstrated, rather than just asserted, is that improvements in efficiency are genuine and not at the expense of the care provided to patients.'

The report also criticises Department of Health plans to ring-fence the £1.67 billion surplus in the NHS from 2007/08 to sure up health spending in future years.

‘Whilst some contingency planning is sensible, there is a real risk that patients lose out because the NHS is not spending its allocated funding on treating them,' the report says.

Mr Leigh said: It's not the case that the bigger a surplus the better. Patients lose out if too much NHS funding is sitting unspent in bank accounts.'

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