London primary care trusts cost-shunting £22 million to councils, London Councils group warns

At least £22 million of healthcare costs for services for vulnerable people are being shunted on to London councils from “debt-ridden” primary care trusts in the capital, council chiefs warned today.

Members of the lobby group London Councils said the figure was likely to increase as more evidence was collected.

The group’s leader’s committee said the cost-shunting was putting “intense strain” on council budgets, placing councils in the “unenviable position” of having to choose whether to cut services or raise council tax.

It said the NHS in London was currently projecting a revised financial deficit of £55 million, and accused PCTs of cutting services for vulnerable people and shunting costs as a “short-term solution” to budget problems.

Merrick Cockell, chair of London Councils, said: “It is clear from the evidence presented today that cost-shunting is already happening. We suspect the figures that we have seen today are only the beginning. To have at least £22 million worth of healthcare costs shunted from overspending PCTs to local authorities – which are already under financial strain themselves – is unacceptable.”

Cockell said two-thirds of London’s councils were “left on the floor” by the last Local Government Finance Settlement, adding: “Borough healthcare budgets cannot and must not be viewed as NHS London’s safety net.”

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