Yorkshire NHS told to make savings of £1.5bn

HEALTH services across Yorkshire must save at least £1.5bn as the NHS confronts a new age of austerity.

Hospitals, mental health and community care services face finding the bulk of efficiencies, worth £1bn, by 2015 despite growing demand for health services and rising costs.

The savings need to be delivered as the biggest ever re-organisation in the NHS takes place, which from today sees GPs across half the region take control of hundreds of millions of pounds of expenditure.

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Plans approved by regional health chiefs yesterday lay bare the scale of the challenge for the NHS which must target efficiencies of 17 per cent, worth more than £1.5bn overall, by 2015.

The toughest task will be in the East Riding and Hull where savings of around 20 per cent are needed worth more than £200m. A total of £251m needs to be saved in North Yorkshire, where the NHS has been beset by financial problems, with a further £182m of efficiencies in Leeds and £174m in Sheffield.

The bulk of savings are being targeted at shifting care out of hospitals into the community, with a highly ambitious target of cutting numbers of patients requiring urgent hospital care by five per cent by 2015.

A key focus involves improving the quality of care including measures to reduce pressure ulcers by 80 per cent, slashing falls causing serious injury by half and another 50 per cent cut in patients suffering blood clots.

All health services must find efficiencies of at least four per cent each year until 2015 but some are targeting savings of as much as eight per cent.

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said: “This is the biggest challenge the health service has ever faced.

“NHS organisations need to take radical action now if we are to avoid a significant reduction in the standards of patient care. NHS leaders, alongside local politicians, need to be clear that it is possible to change the way staff work and where services are offered so patients get better care and the public gets value for money.”

• Full story and background in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post