MP's health cash crisis warning

MASSIVE debts in the region's healthcare system will ultimately have an impact on patient care, an MP has warned.Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, said the NHS in the county is facing an “unprecedented crisis” as it battles with an increasing debt.

MASSIVE debts in the region's healthcare system will ultimately have an impact on patient care, an MP has warned.

Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, said the NHS in the county is facing an “unprecedented crisis” as it battles with an increasing debt.

He claims the situation cannot be sustained in Suffolk without affecting the way people are cared for.

His comments came as the financial position of the health trusts in Suffolk worsened further despite neighbouring counties showing improvements.


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The region's healthcare system had just over £43million worth of debt at the end of the last financial year, a report from the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) revealed.

While Norfolk managed to reduce its overall deficit by £7.2million between the last two months of the year and Cambridgeshire by £2.3m, Suffolk went further into the red.

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Mr Spring said he was “extremely worried” as it was a situation that was getting worse, not better, in Suffolk.

He added: “I can't see how they can avoid this having an impact on patient care.

“You can sell off bits of land and do all sorts of things but ultimately most of the spending is on patient care.”

Although Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust had money left over at the end of the year and Waveney Primary Care Trust broke even, the other health trusts' financial position has deteriorated by a total of £8.6m.

It means Suffolk is responsible for £34.6m of the total debt in the SHA.

In March this year the SHA's board heard that the projected year-end deficit was £52m across the three counties.

Although the situation has turned out better than expected it is still way above the £25m debt the government allows.

Martin Taylor, the authority's head of finance, said: “It is a concern to us as £43m is a large sum.

“To put it in context, it is two per cent of the total funds we spend in the NHS. “Also the NHS will be getting another 30% in additional funds over the next three years.

“It is a significant task to pull back the finances but we think it can be done with good management.”

The report, which will be considered in an SHA board meeting tomorrow , says the deterioration in Suffolk's financial situation was mainly due to the trusts' inability to deliver the savings assumed in earlier forecasts.

This includes one-off savings, such as the sale of assets, as well as reductions in mental health placements and prescribing.

The figures also reflected higher than planned payments to GPs, it said.

Mr Taylor said Suffolk GPs received more money as they were providing a better quality of service.

“There is a lot of new management in Suffolk,” he added.

“The new leadership has put in a lot of hard work to cut costs and be more efficient and use services better.

“Some of their plans have taken a bit longer to deliver fully.

“They need to look at everything they do - the way they use hospital beds, the way they use primary care, the way they use doctors closer to the patients, which will save them money.

“We believe that Suffolk can recoup their debts and recover their financial position through efficiencies and using the significant investment over the three years.

“We are concerned but we have been concerned in previous years.”

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