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NHS budget crisis could close A&E units

PUBLISHED: 12:33 14 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:00 22 October 2010

Some East Anglian hospitals could be forced to close their A&E departments, leaving emergency patients with further to travel, the head of the NHS warned today.

Some East Anglian hospitals could be forced to close their A&E departments, leaving emergency patients with further to travel, the head of the NHS warned today.

Other specialist services such as orthopaedics or cancer treatment, may be concentrated in fewer units, as the NHS nationally grapples with a £512m overspend.

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Sir Ian Carruthers pointed to East Anglia as the region where the NHS had the biggest deficit problem.

He told the newspaper that chief executives of strategic health authorities were drawing up local development plans, identifying which services could be reorganised.

"The action we need to take is challenging - probably the most challenging in the history of the NHS - because we have to maintain the excellent results that we published in out annual report, and we need to meet the challenge of the deficits," he said.

But Geoff Martin, head of campaigns for pressure group Health Emergency, said: "The NHS are softening us up for some major cuts and closures later this year.

"This is the first time that the NHS chief executive has accepted that whole hospitals may be left to go bust.

"For staff, this means that the axe of redundancy is hanging over thousands of heads. For patients, it means serious questions over whether their local hospital will be one of the winners or losers under New Labour's death-or-glory health policy."


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