Hospital bosses' £1.5m savings

BOSSES at Ipswich Hospital need to make savings of almost £1.5million before April to balance the books, they have revealed.They blame a huge increase in emergency admissions and extreme pressures on the health service for the dramatic overspend.

BOSSES at Ipswich Hospital need to make savings of almost £1.5million before April to balance the books, they have revealed.

They blame a huge increase in emergency admissions and extreme pressures on the health service for the dramatic overspend.

Waiting lists are suffering because of the busy spell, with increasing numbers of outpatients going for more than 17 weeks without an appointment.

In a report before the board of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust today, Chris Dooley, director of finance and performance, says "urgent action" is needed to balance the books.


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But a hospital spokeswoman yesterdayinsisted patients remained the top priority and said staff were coping admirably with the huge workload.

"If the hospital is incredibly busy, it has a knock-on effect to waiting lists and our targets," she said.

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"Our costs have risen because of the huge number of patients and high level of emergency admissions. We have aspirations to meet targets and balance the books and hope we will, but patients will always take priority over targets.

"It has been difficult to bring people in for elective care, but we have to judge the clinical priorities and treat the most needy first. Our staff are coping with it and doing a fantastic job.

"There has been huge pressure on the hospital and it shows why we desperately need the £24m critical care centre, which will be ready in 2005 or 2006."

She said the "urgent action" to cut costs would entail "thinking carefully about spending" and securing "best value for money".

The trust's overspend increased by £70,000 in September, to £1.48m. It had been charged with making efficiency savings of £2.6m this year.

But huge costs of paying staff to cope with the high number of emergency admissions and related spending on equipment and drugs have been highlighted as the main causes of the current overspend.

The report reveals there were 2,141 emergency admissions during September – more than 70 a day – and 4,841 people attending the accident and emergency department.

Staff saw more than 23,000 outpatients during the month with 2,246 day cases and elective inpatients.

Outpatients waiting more than 17 weeks for an appointment continued to increase, and the figure was 149% over target (261 patients) at the end of September.

There were 1,658 patients waiting for more than 13 weeks, which was 668 more than the target of 990.

More than 400 inpatients were waiting for more than nine months for an appointment – 70 (18%) over target.

The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust board will discuss the figures at a meeting today.

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