Concerns Aired Over Funding

The leaders of London’s councils unanimously passed a resolution calling both the Government and the NHS to account for the funding difficulties faced by the capital’s health service. Concerns were raised at the London Councils’ leaders’ committee – made up of the leaders of London’s 33 local authorities – about the funding difficulties faced by Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in the capital.

And Harrow Council’s latest budget, which was proposed and passed at cabinet on Thursday December 14, made a series of cuts to frontline social care services that were previously jointly funded by Harrow PCT and the council.

Cllr Chris Mote, leader of Harrow Council, said: “Harrow Council is facing significant pressures and, in particular, covering the costs of partnership initiatives in the light of the PCT’s cuts. Labour is squeezing council budgets across the capital, but to expect council tax payers to bail out the NHS is perverse and unfair.”

But, massive financial problems at Harrow PCT have meant they have had to dramatically reduce the level of care they can provide in the borough. The cuts to services could result in a cost shunt that would cost the council £2.3million.

Harrow council has had to increase council tax by 4.9 per cent this year and three per cent the next to absorb the extra cost. But London’s Council leaders have said the situation could have been avoided if the health service was subject to the same levels of financial regulation and scrutiny as local councils.

Cllr Mote said: “We are in intense negotiations with the PCT and lobbying the Government with London Councils to get a better deal for the residents of Harrow. In Harrow we are under extraordinary financial pressure and the current position in the health economy puts us under even greater strain.”

It was also argued that boroughs’ expertise at delivering good quality services under tight budgets could be used to assist the health service in resolving its present financial difficulties.

Harrow Council received a £1.6million increase in its funding this year from central government.