Star's bid to question health secretary

TODAY The Evening Star steps up its campaign to save Suffolk's NHS by demanding a meeting with the secretary of state for health.Yesterday we sent a letter to Alan Johnson through the pages of the newspaper, calling for him to bring a reality check to the finances of the NHS in Suffolk and nationwide.

TODAY The Evening Star steps up its campaign to save Suffolk's NHS by demanding a meeting with the secretary of state for health.

Yesterday we sent a letter to Alan Johnson through the pages of the newspaper, calling for him to bring a reality check to the finances of the NHS in Suffolk and nationwide.

As it was revealed that Ipswich Hospital has had to take out a £23.4million loan from the Government to keep the Heath Road site running while it makes cuts to pay off debts, the Department of Health released a statement claiming the NHS is getting more efficient.

The statement quoted Mr Johnson as saying: “The NHS is getting more efficient, generating a surplus while improving performance.

“This position gives individual trusts the flexibility and resources to plan for the long-term and provide better care for patients.

“Trusts will be able to use these resources, for example investing further in tackling healthcare associated infections and delivering faster treatment for patients.”

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However Ipswich Hospital has been faced with cutting beds and jobs because of their debts while the government kitty is overflowing by £1.8billion.

Today we are asking to meet Mr Johnson face-to-face to ask:

N How he is going to help struggling local health services like Ipswich Hospital

N Why the government is making things harder for hospitals by forcing them to pay interest on NHS loans

N Why a surplus of cash announced by the Department of Health cannot be used to help clear local debts

Ipswich Hospital's loan is part of a massive £777.9m loan to trusts across the UK. With interest it will add more than £30m of repayments to the hospital's already publicised £17.3m debt.

Just last week the government announced that it will underspend in the NHS by a record £1.8billion this financial year.

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said: “It beggars belief that the health secretary for our nation can send out a media release implying everything is rosy, when hospitals like Ipswich are struggling as they are.

“I want to meet Mr Johnson to ask him just what he intends to do for local health services now the NHS has announced a surplus.”

N Should the £1.8billion NHS underspend be used to ease the pressure on troubled hospitals like Ipswich? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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