Jeremy Vine caller slams Johnson over energy cost crisis
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Energy costs this winter are predicted to be up to three times higher than a year ago. According to the investigation — published online yesterday in The BMJ — many NHS trusts fear that sacrifices will need to be made in the coming months. In order to continue operating, it said, trusts are expecting to be forced to offer diminished care, increased waiting times and reduced staffing levels.
NHS Confederation senior acute lead Rory Deighton told The BMJ: “This isn’t an abstract problem.
“The gap in funding from rising inflation will either have to be made up by fewer staff being employed, longer waiting time for care, or other areas of patient care being cut back.
“The new prime minister must provide a top-up in this autumn’s budget of any emergency budget they hold to make up the shortfall.
“The NHS needs at least £3.4billion to make up for inflation during this year alone, and that is before we face a winter of even higher wholesale energy prices.
“A failure to properly compensate the NHS for inflation will only heighten pressure on our health service as we move towards a winter that we know will be particularly challenging this year.”
In its investigation, The BMJ asked NHS trusts in England for details of recent and predicted future energy bills, and the measures needed to accommodate cost increases.
Last week, energy regulator Ofgem announced that, from October, the price of the domestic electricity and gas price cap in England, Scotland and Wales would be rising by 80 percent.
Bills for non-domestic customers like hospitals, however, are not subject to the price cap, and are thus even more vulnerable to the presently surging wholesale energy prices. The majority of NHS trusts told the medical journal they are expecting their energy bills to at least double this coming winter.
The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust in London, for example, has predicted it will rack up a combined electricity and gas bill of £650,000 a month in January and February next year — up from £350,000 in the same months this year.
The Sheffield NHS Foundation Trust, meanwhile, projects that its total energy bill for 2022–23 will be almost 130 percent higher than in the equivalent 2021–22 period.
However, this increase has been mitigated by the fact that the trust had already locked in its current energy prices with its supplier until the end of March next year.
Less well off is the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, which is looking at budgeting for a frightful 214 percent increase in its electricity and gas cost for 2022-23.
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NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire programme director for system finance Marcus Pratt said: “Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust have planned for, and continue to forecast, an increase in budget for annual energy costs of approximately £27m compared to costs experienced in 2021-22.
“For Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the equivalent value is approximately £5m.”
Back in May, NHS England had estimated that rising energy prices would cost the health service £485million more in 2022–23 than had previously been budgeted back in December.
NHS England is understood to have set aside £1.5billion from its existing budget to cover this increase — alongside various other inflationary pressures, such as fuel costs for ambulance services, private finance initiative contracts, and local authority care prices.
The problem is that energy prices are continuing to shoot up — with a further rise of 50 percent predicted for next year.
The full findings of the investigation were published in The BMJ.
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