Government ministers have buried NHS statistics that show the service hurtling towards an unprecedented £2bn deficit to avoid overshadowing the Tory party conference, say top NHS officials.
One senior figure at the health service regulator Monitor said his organisation had been “leaned on” by Whitehall to delay its report, which shows that NHS finances are worsening.
Neither Monitor’s quarterly report on how the NHS is faring, nor equivalent data from the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA), have been published, as they usually are around the time of the organisations’ board meetings last month. Hospital trusts passed their information to the two regulators two months ago.
NHS insiders said it was “very, very odd” and significant that, in a departure from its usual practice, Monitor discussed the financial and treatment waiting time performance of the 152 foundation trusts it regulates in the private – rather than the public – session of its board meeting last Wednesday.
Bosses of NHS hospitals who were expecting to see the matching data for the non-foundation trusts overseen by the TDA, an arm of the Department of Health, are concerned that it is the first time that its board has failed to publish key statistics when it has held its regular monthly meeting.
Sources at the TDA and Monitor confirmed to the Observer that both organisations had been asked to delay publication, which means the figures will not appear until later this week or next.
This would not be the first time Conservatives have hidden important information about the effects of their policies on the NHS. Does anyone remember the notorious ‘risk register’, showing threats to the service created by the Health and Social Care Act that allowed private healthcare providers to tender for NHS contracts? It was never published.
Perhaps if the risk register had been made public in 2012, the service would not be facing a £2 billion shortfall in funds now.
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