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Hunt accused of ‘underhand’ attempt to cover up poor DH finances by MPs

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s decision to publish the Department of Health’s end-of-year finances on the day before Parliament rises for summer recess ‘smacks of an underhand attempt to cover up’ its poor finances, an influential committee of GPs has said. 

The Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier wrote to the health secretary last night following the publication of the accounts, which showed that trusts ended the year with a combined deficit of £2.45bn.

The letter states: ‘I write to express dismay that you published your department’s accounts today the day the Parliament rises for summer recess.

’This does not allow MPs to consider the accounts before recess and smacks of an underhand attempt to cover up the poor state of finances in your department.’

Ms Hillier points out the PAC has regularly highlighted budget problems across health bodies and the ‘staggering’ increase in NHS trusts’ deficits.

The letter also states the Treasury was ‘not able to consider whether to reduce any funding that it had voted for your department’ as a result of the delayed notification.

The accounts were published alongside a major overhaul of NHS England financial controls to rein in the health service’s spending and ‘cut the annual trust deficit’.

It revealed that nine further CCGs have been placed in special measures – bringing the total up to 26 – based on how they had discharged their responsibilities set out in new inspection criteria.

Pulse approached the DH for comment but the letter had not yet been received by the department