Colchester: Hospital savings to come from income, not job losses

BOSSES at Colchester Hospital are confident of saving a projected �17 million in the next year without compromising patient care or having to cut staff.

The hospital is aiming to generate much of the sum by producing additional income and intends to increase its workforce by about 30 posts despite concerns from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) that proposed NHS savings will lead to widespread job losses.

Many of the region’s hospitals plan to cut staffing costs as independent regulators ask foundation trusts to save between 4.5 and 5.25% of their annual budgets, but Colchester aims to make most of its savings by improving efficiency and generating extra income.

The RCN said hospitals in the East will have to save a collective sum of �231m in the next year as part of Cost Improvement Plans (CIP) requiring the NHS as a whole to save at least �20 billion by 2015.

The union’s analysis of data provided by the Health Service Journal showed that Colchester Hospital’s total service and cost improvement target for 2012/13 stands at �17m - 7% of its projected �220m turnover.

Elsewhere, according to data, the West Suffolk Hospital is aiming to save �9.1m, including staff costs of �4.7m, while the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital aims to save �35m, including staff costs of �14m.

Although �1m will come from staff costs at Colchester, managers believe most of the savings can be made from projected income and that staff numbers can actually be increased. A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Colchester General Hospital and Essex County Hospital, said: “Our principal commitments in 2012/13 continue to be patient safety, better clinical outcomes and improving the overall patient experience.

Most Read

“Last year we successfully delivered a Service and Cost Improvement Programme of �14.5m and finished the year with an underlying surplus of �6m while making significant improvements in our performance. For example, in the Care Quality Commission’s Survey of adult inpatients 2011, we were the most improved hospital trust in the NHS East of England region.

“During the current year we expect to increase staff numbers by about 30 posts.”

The RCN meanwhile raised concerns over where the extra income would come from. Regional director Karen Webb said: “It remains to be seen how hospitals can generate an extra �50m of income this year at a time when commissioners are also making savings.

“For some hospitals the lifting of the cap on private patient work under the new health act might be a temptation to bring in money, and the public may also be hit by increased charging for services like car parking and catering at hospitals.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter