Exclusive: Yorkshire hospitals told to make extra multimillion pound cuts amid NHS debt crisis

Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.
Graphic by Graeme Bandeira.
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Hospital bosses across Yorkshire are being tasked with finding millions of pounds worth of extra in-year cuts as the NHS faces up to spiralling debts.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH) chiefs have already held an “extraordinary financial stretch meeting” after being tasked with finding an additional £5.5million of savings, while bosses in Hull and East Yorkshire face finding £5.9m.

Leeds General Infirmary. Picture by rossparry.co.uk/ Steven Schofield.

Leeds General Infirmary. Picture by rossparry.co.uk/ Steven Schofield.

It has emerged that NHS regulators Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority (TDA) have asked trusts nationwide to make further cutbacks in a bid to reduce growing health service debts.

LTH, which had forecast a £40.2m deficit by the end of 2015-16 despite its cost cutting, was told to identify 0.5 per cent in extra savings as the NHS faces an “almost unprecedented financial challenge”.

The new measures, which will be discussed at a board meeting today, come on top of LTH’s current plans to deliver £67m worth of cuts from its £1.1bn budget in 2015/16 and leave trust chiefs scrambling to find new ways to reduce its overall deficit to £34.7m.

Meanwhile Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust (HEY) has been told to cut its planned shortfall of £21.9m down to £16m.

In a letter to trusts, TDA chief executive Bob Alexander called for “urgent action” and asked NHS bosses to revise their financial plans to create a new “stretching but achievable ambition”.

Tony Whitfield, who is the director of finance at LTH, said: “We have undertaken a thorough review of our financial position and considered all opportunities open to us to identify areas where we can make further efficiencies without impacting on the quality of care and services we provide for patients.

“We have provided the Trust Development Authority with an outline of our proposed plans to deliver additional savings which we will continue to discuss with them.”

All NHS trusts, whether they were forecasting a deficit or a profit, were sent letters by either Monitor or the TDA in August urging them to set new efficiency targets – only some trusts were given specific figures to aim at.

Lee Bond, who is the chief financial officer at HEY, said: “We have submitted two further plans. We are currently awaiting a response from the TDA concerning our most recent plan submission.”

The extra savings come after it emerged that NHS trusts in Yorkshire alone have forecasted that debts will exceed £170m by the end of 2015-16. Only three trusts forecasted breaking even or better.

Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust had planned for a £14.8m loss, South Tees NHS Trust expected to have £13.7m of debt, while Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust forecast a £19m deficit before they were asked to make further savings.

NHS trusts in England reported a total deficit of £822m in 2014-15, compared to just £115m the previous year, and many of the problems were linked to a massive overspend on agency staff.

The bill for agency staff in Yorkshire last year came to more than £113m last year – a rise of a third in a year.

An NHS TDA spokeswoman said: “NHS TDA is supporting our NHS trusts to finalise realistic plans for the rest of this financial year. These discussions are still ongoing and we will publish a full position, including the final planned positions for this year, when these discussions have fully concluded.”