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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 June 2007, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK
NHS finances: Reaction
The NHS now has a surplus after two years of deficits.

It represents a remarkable turnaround since last year, but sacrifices have had to be made.

Jobs have been lost and training and public health budgets raided. Experts give their view.

Gill Morgan, of the NHS Confederation

Jonathan Fielden, of the British Medical Association

Peter Carter, of the Royal College of Nursing

Niall Dickson, of the King's Fund

Mike Jackson, of Unison

Professor Janet Finch, of the Universities UK health and social care policy committee

NHS Confederation chief executive

"The figures show that because of the hard work and commitment of NHS staff the vast majority of NHS trusts are getting back on track financially.

"However, while the number of NHS organisations in deficit have reduced, it is still of concern that 22% of trusts remain in significant financial difficulty.

"There are still going to be difficult decisions to be made in those organisations and areas.

"It makes managerial good sense to budget to deliver a small surplus. If you don't have money in the bank, you can't respond to emergencies, plan for improvements and you end up living hand to mouth."

Chairman of the British Medical Association's consultants committee

"While the NHS may be in credit today, the journey to balance the books has wreaked havoc on the NHS and is a return to boom and bust health economics.

"There have been excessive cuts in service and it will take years to rebuild the trust and collaboration that has been destroyed in the past year.

"Consultants are desperate to lead change and introduce new treatments for patients but they are being hampered by cuts, target and micro-management from Whitehall.

"Patients deserve the highest quality service and the government needs to work with us to achieve this goal."

General secretary of the Royal College of Nursing

"These end of year figures expose the tragedy and farce of NHS finances.

"We now have a mind-boggling state of affairs in which individual organisations are in deficit to the tune of 911m, while the NHS as a whole has amassed a surplus of 510m.

"Stop-go economics is no way to run the NHS. So ministers have to learn the lessons from the serious errors that have brought us to this point.

"If not, then it will be patients and staff who continue to pay the price."

Chief executive of the King's Fund health think-tank

"The NHS is back in the black and that is good news for patients, staff and the image of the health service which has suffered over the past year.

"We welcome the announcement of a net financial surplus but do not underestimate how difficult the past 12 months must have been for health professionals on the front line.

"It is to their credit and the credit of the NHS as a whole that it can now face the future on a firmer financial footing.

"But the figures cannot disguise the fact that the gross financial deficit figure facing the service is 911m, although it is good news that this has improved from the 2005/06 figure of 1.3bn."

Senior national officer at Unison

"We welcome the fact that the NHS is in a stronger financial position, but the 510m under-spend shows that staff and patients have been put through an unnecessary year of pain, job losses and cuts.

"The government's knee-jerk reaction to the deficits last year has led to 20,000 job losses and damaged morale and patient services.

"Now is the time to give nurses and health staff the full 2.5% pay award recommended by the pay review body.

"It would cost 200m and would be a small step towards raising staff morale and recognising the enormous efforts that they have made in delivering high quality patient care despite the squeeze on NHS finances."

Chairman of the Universities UK health and social care policy committee

"On the face of it, the announcement is good news.

"But take a closer look at the strategic health authorities' strategic reserves and they seem to consist of funds from the education and training budgets.

"If things continue in this way, it will be a disaster for patient care and health service morale.

"Cuts in education commissions now mean fewer qualified staff to care for patients in 2010.

"SHAs are subject to short-term pressures which mean that education and training will always be susceptible to cuts unless the funding is ring-fenced.

"This has been successfully implemented in the case of research and development funding, for instance."

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