NHS Hospitals to feel the axe as Treasury cuts £11bn

Alistair Darling will reveal details of how he plans to cut £11 billion from Whitehall spending in the pre election Budget.

The £11 billion is the first instalment of drastic cuts intended to slash £82 billion in four years from the record £178 billion deficit. Some hospital buildings face closure as the government seeks to save billions of pounds from more efficient services, Mr Byrne suggested.

Until Mr Byrne’s remarks it had been unclear whether precise cuts would be unveiled next month. The move is a victory for Mr Darling, who has been tussling with Gordon Brown about how far the Budget should detail Labour’s proposed cuts and whether any extra cash should go on spending or savings.

The £11 billion referred to by Mr Byrne was sketched out in the November Pre-Budget Report, but was criticised by some for lacking detail. It is part of the £20 billion savings that will be in place by 2012-13, according to government plans. The rest is made up from freezing public sector pay, curbing public sector pensions and cutting some spending programmes.

Mr Byrne suggested that hospitals will become vulnerable as trusts look to save money and improve efficiency by providing more healthcare in the community. “Some hospitals will have to start doing more of their care in the community rather than in big expensive hospitals,” he said.

Asked if this could mean some hospital buildings closing, he said: “Yes. A lot of hospitals are thinking of moving some of their business out into the community, because it is better care, more convenient, also cheaper. I think it’s possible to improove services, saving money.”

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