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Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Friday, 24 March 2006

The NHS blame game

Ambulance

Labour is pouring billions of extra pounds into the NHS but are we getting value for money?

The scale of spending is unprecedented - yet the service is about to announce the highest deficit ever - it's in the red to the tune of 800m. And across the country, parts of the NHS are on go-slow to try to recover some of it.

Some posts are frozen and redundancies are planned. Hospital bosses have been sacked and many more know their jobs are on the line. Patients have even taken to the streets to protest.

Ministers point the finger at a handful of bad managers - rotten apples frittering away the cash in the wealthiest parts of the country. But where does the blame really lie?

Panorama investigates just how this sorry saga has come about, and reveals a tale involving mistakes and miscalculation, weakness and wasted opportunity.

And this year doesn't see the end of NHS financial woes; costs and patient expectations are rising inexorably. The gap between Labour's spending plans and its ambitions for the service are growing daily.

So what will happen when the government's present commitment to record growth in NHS funding runs out 2008?

Panorama: The NHS Blame Game was on BBC One on Sunday 26 March 2006.



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