Health trusts face £23m deficit

By Danielle NuttallHEALTH trusts in Suffolk are facing a combined deficit of more than £23million at the end of April, new figures have revealed.Four out of five primary care trusts and both the county's hospitals are forecasting large shortfalls, which could amount to a total of £23.

By Danielle Nuttall

HEALTH trusts in Suffolk are facing a combined deficit of more than £23million at the end of April, new figures have revealed.

Four out of five primary care trusts and both the county's hospitals are forecasting large shortfalls, which could amount to a total of £23.4m.

But health bosses stressed no services would be cut as a result of the financial pressures, although they warned changes needed to be made in the way they were delivered to make savings.

The latest figures were revealed by Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority chief executive Peter Houghton in response to a letter written by the West Suffolk MP, Richard Spring.

The projected deficit for 2004-05 includes the £20m shortfall brought forward from 2003-04.

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The figures showed Ipswich Hospital Trust was facing a £1.4m deficit at the end of April, while Suffolk West Primary Care Trust faces a £5.2m shortfall - but both health trusts warned their position might worsen.

West Suffolk Hospitals Trust is indicating a full-year deficit of £4.6m, with Ipswich Primary Care Trust projecting a £5.4m shortfall, Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust a £5m deficit and Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust a £1.8m shortfall.

Mr Houghton said: “The strategic health authority is continuing to work closely with trusts in Suffolk to ensure that financial recovery plans are robust and effective and that key improvements in access and quality continue to be delivered.

“No service reductions are planned as a result of the financial pressures, as the NHS has still to achieve important service targets.

“However, we do need to change the way in which services are delivered - keeping patients suffering from chronic diseases out of hospital by providing better community services, for example, which will both better meet patients' needs and achieve financial savings.”

In his letter, Mr Spring asked the strategic health authority to provide up-to-date information regarding its financial position and also whether a replacement for Sudbury Hospital would go ahead due to budgetary pressures at Suffolk West Primary Care Trust.

Mr Houghton replied: “The strategic health authority and the local NHS in west Suffolk remain committed to developing modern health services in Suffolk. We are also clear that the services should be cost effective.

“We have agreed that the primary care trust should submit a new model with a revised business case to the strategic health authority for approval in March.”

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk