Jobs fear as debt-hit NHS trust battles to cut £24m

NHS resources 'disproportionate'
NHS resources 'disproportionate'
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BOSSES at a crisis-hit NHS trust in Yorkshire have set out a series of measures to slash costs by £24m amid warnings radical action is needed to turn debt-ridden services around.

The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs services in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury, will still run up a £15m deficit in the coming 12 months despite the package which managers warn will mean cuts in the 7,800 workforce.

Staff will be offered unpaid leave or reduced hours as part of efficiencies in the programme which comes after the trust plunged nearly £20m into the red in the year to March.

The trust, which serves more than half a million people but has been mired in financial problems for most of the past decade, will still need extra funding of £10m in the coming year on top of an additional £14m in the past 12 months.

The latest plans have been drawn up using advice on tighter financial controls from private consultants Ernst & Young, which the Yorkshire Post can reveal has itself so far cost £750,000.

It comes as a new management team takes shape at the trust in the wake of the departure of the chief executive and chairman and controversy over the overnight closure of A&E at Pontefract Hospital due to a shortage of doctors.

Interim chief executive Stephen Eames said the measures to save £2m a month were vital for the future of the trust – although he refused to put a figure on potential job losses.

“Staff costs account for more than 70 per cent of overall expenditure and we cannot deliver savings on the scale needed without reducing the workforce,” he said. “The new measures under consideration are necessary – the consequences of not taking action are far worse.

“We all need to work together to get this organisation in shape for the future and to deliver on our commitment to delivering safe, sustainable services to meet the needs of our communities.”

The measures include tighter controls on the use of temporary agency staff and locum doctors, which cost £10m a year. Cuts will also be made in the costs of management and clerical staff, which are higher than other NHS organisations.

He said better use was already being made of operating theatres at Pontefract Hospital but rates of cheaper day case surgery remained significantly below the best-performing trusts.

“We all want to see Mid Yorkshire become a strong organisation that delivers high quality care for our communities,” he added.

“I am confident these are robust, strong measures that should lead us to meet our targets this year.”

Finance director Bob Chadwick said Ernst & Young had carried out a detailed review of the trust’s underlying financial position.

He added: “They have since supported the trust in designing strong financial governance systems to ensure the identification and delivery of future cost savings. The trust is required to provide services within the resources available, whilst ensuring that patient safety remains paramount.”

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said he backed measures to cut waste but was concerned patients were already heading to neighbouring hospitals or the private sector.

“As a result, the trust’s income goes down and you end up with a financial crisis,” he said.

David Hutchinson, vice-chairman of Wakefield Local Involvement Network, which represents patients, said the trust had to become financially viable and part of the solution lay in fusing the services of the three hospitals together.

“It looks as if the economies will have to come from the centralisation of services,” he said.