NHS hospitals pressured to ‘cook the books’ and underplay scale of their deficits, says whistleblower

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NHS hospitals are coming under pressure to “cook the books” and underplay the scale of their deficits, a whistleblowing finance director has told MPs.

In anonymous evidence to the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, the finance director of an unnamed district general hospital says they have become “very concerned” that national regulators are “pressurising NHS providers to potentially mislead the public and Government departments over their true, underlying financial performance”.

The hospital sector is expecting to breach its target of a £1.8bn controlled deficit this financial year, with the National Audit Office projecting the total could be £2.2bn.

However, in their evidence to MPs, the anonymous finance director warns that the overall deficit for NHS providers in England could be as high as £2.9bn – a figure which one leading expert said would not be surprising.

In strict new edicts last month, the Department of Health said that NHS trusts must eliminate their deficits by the end of the next financial year or miss out on £1.8bn of new funding. Entire boards could be suspended at hospitals which fail to balance the books and maintain care standards, officials said, while Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned failure “was not an option”.

In their evidence to MPs, the anonymous finance director refers to a case in which an NHS accountant was jailed for fraudulently amending a valuation report in 2008 and writes: “My fear is that some FDs may be pressurised into taking the wrong judgements and making inaccurate claims to keep the regulator at bay…I fear for FDs being put under similar pressure to ‘cook the books’.”

Source: NHS hospitals pressured to ‘cook the books’ and underplay scale of their deficits, says whistleblower | Health News | Lifestyle | The Independent

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3 thoughts on “NHS hospitals pressured to ‘cook the books’ and underplay scale of their deficits, says whistleblower

  1. Dez

    I would have thought they would want the figures to fail so that they could import a private organisation in to clear up the mess they created by cutting the funds in the first place.

  2. Malcolm MacINTYRE-READ

    Cooking the books? But what is wrong with that?

    Boy George has been, is, and will continue to do it for years (hopefully only a couple) to come, to “prove” that he is “reducing” the deficit, conveniently ignoring the fact that all undoctored and unspun figures show it is increasing, as is the amount he is having to borrow to keep him & has Con friends in power.

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      The deficit IS the amount he has to borrow, although it isn’t to keep him and his friends in power.
      The deficit does appear to be above predicted figures, although whether this constitutes an overall increase has yet to be seen.
      His predictions for deficit reduction have been very badly wrong, but that’s not to say that there hasn’t been a reduction; there probably would have been in any case.
      None of this is intended to defend Osborne; he has certainly chosen the wrong method to reduce the deficit and it is certainly falling at a slower rate than he has predicted. If it really is rising again now, it is because of his mistakes.

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