West Suffolk: Hospital loses out on £30m of funding as patients from Haverhill and Newmarket opt to go to Addenbrooke’s
17:00 09 May 2014
Cash-strapped West Suffolk Hospital is missing out on as much as £30million due to residents at the most westerly edge of the county getting their treatment in Cambridge.
Patients in and around Haverhill and Newmarket are more likely to turn to Addenbrooke’s rather than West Suffolk for treatment that could be delivered at either hospital, with the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) having to pay for services delivered over the border.
Improving the hospital’s ‘market share’ and becoming the hospital-of-choice for patients at the edge of its catchment area has been identified as a key driver to improve West Suffolk’s financial fortunes.
Like many district general hospitals, West Suffolk is facing unprecedented financial pressure, with health watchdog Monitor questioning its financial sustainability and the CCG calling its model “non-viable” unless changes can be made.
Attracting even part of the £30m spent on patients crossing into Cambridgeshire would therefore be a welcome boost to the hospital’s income from the NHS, which this year stands at £150m.
A spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said: “Some patients who live in the Haverhill and Newmarket areas opt to go to Addenbrooke’s for routine treatments for a range of different reasons. We are keen to encourage those patients to use our services instead, which would not only generate additional income for West Suffolk Hospital, but also ease pressure on Addenbrooke’s.
“To help us achieve this, we plan to introduce new outreach clinics in towns across west Suffolk, in turn bringing services closer to people’s homes and making them as easy as possible to access.
“These clinics would come in addition to those already taking place in Sudbury, Thetford, Stowmarket, Newmarket and Haverhill, and will help further increase patient choice by providing another option for patients who may otherwise consider travelling to Cambridge for their care.”
In its draft two-year plan, the hospital has targeted becoming more efficient in its non-elective care alongside boosting the number of planned treatments it performs by 20%.
The hospital’s catchment area stretches to Newmarket, Haverhill, Stowmarket, Sudbury, Thetford and Botesdale.
Although the hospital says its ‘market share’ is around 60% in Thetford and Sudbury, it drops to only 20% in Haverhill.
The hospital has tried to boost its presence in these satellite town by offering more and more outreach services, and is in discussion with the Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as well as local GPs and the West Suffolk CCG, to get more people treated in the county.
The hospital has budgeted for a loss of £8m for the current financial year, which it hopes will fall to £3m the following year with more income from the NHS.
The report adds that the hospital plans to boost its finances with “the sale of land in Sudbury”, believed to be the Harp Close Meadow, known locally as the People’s Park.
Other measures identified include improving the provision of community beds to rid the hospital of so-called bed blockers, as well as further integrating health and social care.