A council leader has called on the prime minister to stop a primary care trust cutting its budget by£25m. Mr Blair was dragged into the row after the leader of Brent London borough council threatened to refuse to accept any attempt to shift work from healthcare to social services.
Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Lorber wrote to Mr Blair and health secretary Patricia Hewitt to protest against 'drastic in-year cuts' at Brent teaching PCT. The trust board has agreed plans drawn up by its turnaround director and external advisers to save£53m over two financial years.
Mr Lorber accused the PCT of 'continuing cost-shunting from health to social care'. The council would have to find an extra£6m as a result of 'health service cutbacks' such as hospital bed closures, he claimed.
Mr Lorber threatened to instruct council officers to refuse to accept 'any further substantial shift of responsibility for funding many individual cases from the NHS to Brent council' and said the council would 'use every legal remedy at our disposal where we consider the council's interests have been jeopardised'. Legal officers were considering challenging moves to close 20 rehabilitation beds in the courts, a spokesperson said.
PCT interim chief executive Nigel Webb said: 'We regret having to take these decisions but we must work towards balancing our budget under NHS rules.' Reasons for the cost pressures included 'money top-sliced by NHS London, treating many more patients than we planned for and our own issues of financial control', he added.
The trust has agreed to close three clinics and consult on plans to close a walk-in centre and said the closure of 20 rehabilitation beds would be 'temporary'.