British hospitals delay surgeries for cash

Feb. 25, 2007 at 8:32 PM

LONDON, Feb. 25 (UPI) -- Nearly half of England's National Health Service hospitals are purposefully delaying surgeries to save money, The Sunday Telegraph reported.

Treatments can be postponed for more than 20 weeks, the newspaper said. Nearly half of NHS hospitals have imposed "minimum waiting times" that can be up to 28 weeks.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has reportedly vowed to resign if the NHS cannot balance its books by the end of the fiscal year.

"Staff are being paid to do nothing in the current quarter because Patricia Hewitt needs to get the NHS back into the black by April to save her job" said Andrew Lansley, Hewitt's Tory shadow. "Labor's NHS mismanagement has reached crisis proportions."

Although an authority at the British Medical Association called the delays "unnecessary" and "crazy," Hewitt has described them as "unfortunate and frustrating but necessary."

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