Page last updated at 13:06 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

London healthcare 'heads towards crisis', say doctors

Hospital ward
BMA predicts the NHS will need to cut hospital services in London

London hospitals "could close as healthcare in the capital heads towards a major financial crisis", the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

As much as £5bn could be cut from NHS London's budget by 2017, it claimed.

The BMA's report, London's NHS On The Brink, predicts that from 2011 there will be a freeze on NHS budgets, with the worst cuts falling in London.

But an NHS spokesman said: "To give people leading expert care we also need to centralise some services."

'Unproven polysystems'

The BMA's report, written by health expert Dr John Lister, criticises some of the proposals that NHS London has made public, including:

  • Cutting the number of people going to hospital A&E departments by a target of 60% and the number going to hospital outpatients by 55%
  • Diverting millions of patients to "unproven polysystems" or clinics that have not yet been built
  • Cutting up to £1.1bn from London hospital budgets "forcing wide scale cutbacks and closures"
  • A 66% reduction in staffing of "non-acute services", including community services for older people and district nurses
  • A 33% cut in the length of GP appointment times

The report surveyed board papers and other published material from primary care trusts (PCTs) in London.

NHS London spokeswoman Anne Rainsberry defends proposed changes

An NHS London spokesman said: "To give Londoners a better standard of NHS care we need to provide more of the services people use the most, closer to where people live.

"To give people leading expert care we also need to centralise some services to create, for example, dedicated stroke and trauma units," he added.

"This will save hundreds of lives every year."

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