Year 2000 No. 67, April 11, 2000

The Contention Regarding NHS Debts

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

The Contention Regarding NHS Debts

US-British Bombing Kills 14 Iraqi People

China Urges US, Britain to Cancel "No-Fly" Zone in Iraq

North and South of Korea Reach an Agreement

North-south Agreement

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The Contention Regarding NHS Debts

According to figures contained in the National Audit Office's summary of NHS accounts published this week, the financial deficits facing health authorities and hospitals are set to worsen. NHS debt went down slightly in the financial year up to March 1999, NHS health authorities and hospital trusts ended up with a combined deficit of £18m. Predictions for 1999-2000, the financial year which ended last month, show a huge increase to a debt of £200m.

Commenting on the figures, David Davis MP, Chairman of the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts, said: "The report shows there are real and serious financial pressures facing the NHS in England. Half of the 100 health authorities recorded a deficit in 1998-99, and one in four NHS trusts." In fact, according to the report, one in five health authorities and one in eight hospital or community trusts were officially classed as being in "serious financial difficulty".

The potential cost of legal action against the NHS in March 1999 was £2.4bn – an increase of £600m from the previous year. However, this could increase by another £1bn when some unreported cases are taken into account. Health Secretary Alan Milburn, following a speech at the Royal College of Nursing congress in Bournemouth, denied that negligence claims could divert the government's plans for NHS reform. He said: "Of course there are clinical negligence claims in the NHS, and we deal with these. But nobody should get the idea that we in any way, shape or form are being detracted from what we want to do or what nurses want to do, which is modernising services."

Stephen Thornton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents health authorities and trusts, said the government’s recent allocation of £600m to the NHS would address the income and expenditure gap for this year. The Confederation had also been told that the remaining £1.4bn that government has yet to allocate may partly be used on a one-off basis to pay off a proportion of NHS debts. Mr Thornton said: "Had we not had the new money a fortnight ago the NHS could well have been in serious financial difficulties, but now we can look forward to carrying out the long term modernisation of the service."

The British Medical Association has called for these debts to be written off using a slice of the extra billions for the NHS announced in Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget last month.

NHS debt: figures
1998-99: £18m combined deficit

1999-2000: £200m predicted combined deficit

50% of health authorities had deficit in 1998-99
20% of health authorities, 12% of trusts in "serious financial difficulty"
Potential medical negligence bill, March 1999: £2.4bn

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US-British Bombing Kills 14 Iraqi People

Fourteen Iraqi people, all civilians, were killed and 19 others injured when British and US warplanes struck targets in southern Iraq on April 6. According to Iraqi military sources, the planes bombed residential areas, in an attack representing one of the heaviest toll of casualties since December 1998.

The US military confirmed that planes carred out strikes, but said they were against military targets in response to attacks by Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery.

The official Iraqi news agency report said, "The American and British criminals added another crime to their barbaric acts … when their ravens bombed residential areas and civil installations."

According to an Iraqi military spokesman, 18 formations of British and US warplanes made 48 armed sorties from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, flying over the southern provinces of Basra, Thi-Qar, Misan, Muthana, Qadissiyah, Wasit and Najaf. He added that shortly after 10 formations of British and US warplanes made 22 armed sorties from Turkey, flying over the three northern provinces.

A total of 20,200 armed sorties have been made by British and US planes over the two no-fly zones in southern and northern Iraq since December 1998, said the spokesman.

Last Thursday’s casualty figure raises the death toll reported by Iraq to 170 civilians with more than 1,000 other people wounded, since the sorties began.

The so-called "no-fly zones" were imposed on Iraq with no legal basis by the US and its allies, chiefly Britain, following the 1991 Gulf War, and are not covered by any UN Security Council resolution.

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China Urges US, Britain to Cancel "No-Fly" Zone in Iraq

Commentary from the People's Daily

China urged the United States and Britain to cancel the "no-fly" zone in Iraq and stop military actions against the country.

Chinese FM spokesman Sun Yuxi made the remarks when asked to comment on the April 6 bombing by US and British warplanes of residential districts in Iraq's Al Basrah and other regions, during which quite some civilians were injured.

"China is very concerned about the developments in Iraq and deeply disturbed over the serious civilian casualities resulted from the bombing of Iraq by the US and British planes", Sun said.

The Chinese side has always maintained and declared on many occasions that the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Iraq should be fully respected.

The establishment of the "no-fly" zone goes against the principles of the United Nations Charter and norms of international relations, and the bombing is detrimental to the efforts by the international community for resolving the Iraq issue, the spokesman pointed out.

The US and the UK should abolish immediately the "no-fly zone" and stop their military actions in the region.

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North and South of Korea Reach an Agreement

Yesterday it was announced that the north and the south of Korea have reached an agreement regarding national reconciliation and unity, exchange and cooperation, and peace and reunification. The report of the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), Pyongyang, dated April 10, is reproduced below.

The three principles of national reunification are those of independence, peaceful reunification and national unity. These were clarified by Kim Jong Il, the General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and form the first point of the "three-point Charter". This Charter represents a credible, fair and realistic solution for the reunification of Korea. The second point is for reunification through an equitable confederal system, in accordance with the proposal to create the "Democratic Confederal Republic of Koryo". The third point of the Charter is the 10-point Programme for the great unity of the whole nation, founded on common interests, put forward by the late President Kim Il Sung.

The historic meeting between Kim Jong Il and the south Korean president Kim Dae Jung in Pyongyang, the capital of the DPRK, from June 12-14 will also be held at a significant time in that June 25 is the 50th anniversary of the US aggression against the DPRK.

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North-south Agreement

April 10, 2000

The north and the south of Korea, reaffirming the three principles of national reunification clarified in the historic July 4 North-South Joint Statement, reached an agreement aimed at accelerating national reconciliation and unity, exchange and cooperation, peace and reunification.

The agreement says:

At the request of President Kim Dae Jung, he will visit Pyongyang from June 12 to 14, 2000.

In Pyongyang a historic meeting between Kim Jong Il, General Secretary of the Worker's Party of Korea and chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission, and President Kim Dae Jung will take place and inter-Korean summit talks will be held. Both sides decided to have a preliminary contact to discuss procedural matters in the near day of April.

The agreement was signed by Song Ho Gyong, vice-chairman of the Korean Asian and Pacific Peace Committee of the north side on behalf of the will of the highest authority and Pak Ji Won, Minister of Culture and Tourism of the south side on behalf of the will of the highest authority.

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