Hospital in multi-million savings bid

ONE of the region's largest and busiest hospitals will have to save £7million extra this year in a financial crackdown on the health service.Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust has now contacted staff for their ideas on how to tackle the massive financial challenge it faces.

ONE of the region's largest and busiest hospitals will have to save £7million extra this year in a financial crackdown on the health service.

Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust has now contacted staff for their ideas on how to tackle the massive financial challenge it faces.

The 800-bed hospital is working with Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts and the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership to draw up a detailed recovery plan.

This will set out how it can find the £18.6m needed to balance its books by the end of March 2006 and pay back the debt it owed from previous years.


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Chris Dooley, acting chief executive of the hospital board, told staff yesterday: “What has now changed is that nationally there is a clear focus on all NHS trusts and organisations achieving financial balance this year (2005/06).

“Strategic Health Authorities throughout the country have been asked to make sure that all health systems balance their books this year, become financially stable and maintain that stability.

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“This has meant that, in partnership with our commissioning Primary Care Trusts, we now need to reduce the activity outlined in service level agreements by £7million this year.

“This means treating patients more efficiently and reducing the numbers of patients referred to The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust.”

In early May, the hospital's trust board approved this year's budget and it included achieving £6.9 million in efficiency savings.

Mr Dooley said the savings were needed as, along with other NHS organisations, it is being asked to contribute an extra two per cent of savings to go towards national cost pressures.

There is also a difference between the money it has been given to provide health care this year, and the money it needs to deliver it.

As well as this, the budget included the need to find one-off initiatives to repay its cumulative debt from previous years - £4.7m.

The trust's savings plan included reducing the use of agency and temporary staff and non-pay expenditure, as well as making sure patients were cared for in the most appropriate place - at the hospital or in the community.

However, the initiatives did not reduce the number of patients being treated at the hospital and the trust now needs to save a total of £18.6 million this year.

Trust chairman Christine Smart said: “It is very clear to the trust board that finding this money in such a relatively short period of time will be extremely challenging, given our own original savings plan.

She added: “In very simple terms, the total amount needed, is equal to every member of staff coming up with an idea to save £2,000 a year or £40 a week in a full year.

“The ideas need to be about cost savings - doing what we do more efficiently or economically, and do not relate to salary cuts.

“The trust board is determined to do everything it can to minimise the impact of making these savings, on services and staff.”

Ms Smart said “no stone would be unturned” in the process but assured patients there would not be a risk to their quality of care.

Chris Mole, Labour MP for Ipswich, said last night: “It is a tough challenge for management but that's what management is there to do. If you put these things off then they get worse. It is better to try to do it sooner rather than later.”

The trust said the detailed recovery plan would be shared with staff and the wider community when finalised, and presented to the trust boards at their forthcoming meetings next month.

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