Short cuts

Published: 15/01/2004, Volume II4, No. 5888 Page 8

Patient services in Kent and Medway could be under threat because of financial pressures.Kent county council's NHS overview and scrutiny committee highlighted£20m of overspends in 2003 in a report produced this week. It is thought to be one of the first scrutiny committees to produce such a detailed commentary on the local NHS.The report warns that the risk of decline in services is highest in east Kent, where there is an£11.3m deficit in the health economy, and in Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells.Costcutting measures in east Kent are 'a major source of worry', it says.Kent and Medway strategic health authority said primary care and acute trusts were concentrating on resolving the long-term financial issues, and the NHS had to balance good financial control with service development.But chief executive Candy Morris praised the council committee for its understanding of 'the intricate and highly technical world of NHS finance'.