Cost of Suffolk's new NHS HQ revealed

THE cost of running Suffolk's new riverside NHS headquarters will be £300,000 a year - £40,000 more than at present - although health bosses have pledged it will save money in the long term.

THE cost of running Suffolk's new riverside NHS headquarters will be £300,000 a year - £40,000 more than at present - although health bosses have pledged it will save money in the long term.

From the beginning of next year the headquarters for the Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) will be based in Rushbrook House, Paper Mill Lane, Bramford and existing offices in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds will close.

The move is part of a huge restructuring of the NHS which, as of Monday, will see four of Suffolk's existing primary care trusts merge to form a new trust covering the entire county, apart from Waveney.

Board members are set to consider an eight-page report by PCT chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown which says the running costs of Rushbrook House will be £301,072 a year - £42,364 more than the current costs.

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But Mrs Taylor-Brown said the move to a single location would mean that at least four fewer support posts will be needed, which will save £86,484 a year.

In addition, a one-site HQ will result in a further annual saving of at least £10,000 through other efficiencies, such as a reduction in the need to hire meeting rooms and less travel between sites.

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Her report, which will be discussed at a meeting on Monday, says: “Public reaction to this proposal may be varied, and the PCT must be sensitive to the perception that this move may seem inappropriate at this difficult time in the health economy.

“However, it is unavoidable and essential for the PCT - there is an established need to secure office accommodation for PCT staff, due to the impact of programmes to redevelop existing estate to improve patient services.

“Further, every effort is being made to keep costs to a minimum, demonstrate prudence and to ensure that any additional recurrent cost as a result of the move is more than offset by savings elsewhere.”

In conclusion she says Rushbrook House best fits all criteria and offers value for money while all recurrent costs will be offset by savings resulting from the benefits of co-location.

Meanwhile, the sale of Thingoe House in Cotton Lane, Bury St Edmunds, the HQ of Suffolk West PCT, will generate about £1m for capital investment in patient services.

But those opposing the relocation are less than convinced claiming the move is “insensitive” at a time when the PCT is struggling with massive debts.

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, said: “There is absolutely no justification to spend money on a new headquarters when Suffolk NHS is in such dire financial crisis.

“It is beyond insensitivity. When jobs are under threat and wards are being closed the first priority should be stability to stop the haemorrhaging of vital services.”

John Gummer, MP for Suffolk Coastal, said: “The PCT and its predecessors has never got its figures right for the last 10 years. I would insist we have a guarantee the figures will be exactly the same in two or three years time.

“However if this is all we are saving by merging the PCTs then you have to ask if this is the right thing to do? It seems we need something much more radical because every pound the PCT spends on itself is one that is not spent on my constituents.”

§ As of Monday East Anglia's 41 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) will be replaced by 14 new organisations which is thought will save the health service in the region around £25m.

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