Newly merged hospitals can only stand still with budget rise, boss warns

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals boss Nick Hulme says NHS investment is not enough Picture: SARAH LU

Ipswich and Colchester hospitals boss Nick Hulme says NHS investment is not enough Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

A promised rise in funding will only be enough to keep the newly merged Ipswich and Colchester hospitals standing still, their boss has warned.

The government announced the NHS will get a 3.5% annual budget increase over the next five years.

Ipswich and Colchester chief executive Nick Hulme said their slice of the package would not allow for the level of change and innovation expected of the hospitals.

“We know just standing still we will use most of that 3.5%,” he said.

Mr Hulme added: “While we welcome any investment in the NHS we need to be realistic about what that can deliver.”

The extra cash needs to cover pay rises agreed for NHS staff.

Mr Hulme was speaking during the first meeting of the hospitals’ joint leadership team today.

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The trusts that run Ipswich and Colchester merged on July 1 to form East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).

Directors approved the hospitals’ newly combined 2018/19 budget.

The trust will receive an income of £673.4 million but will have to find £40.5m worth of savings to end the financial year with a deficit of £27.9m.

If this is achieved, ESNEFT will be rewarded with £19.9m from the Sustainability and Transformation Fund.

The meeting heard the hospitals are spending too much money on agency staff due to problems recruiting doctors and nurses.

Mr Hulme said it was important to recognise that the extra NHS funding would not immediately fill vacancies because the pool of recruits was still limited.

“We can’t think this significant injection of cash will magic staff from somewhere,” he said.

He added pressures on the care system would remain unless there was similar investment in social care and public health services.

Diane Leacock, non-executive director, gave positive news about staffing and said the new trust had attracted more junior doctors this year. She said: “It’s really very pleasing to know that many more doctors have expressed an interest in training with us.”

Mr Hulme confirmed the progression of the Suffolk and North East Essex Sustainability and Transformation Partnership into an Integrated Care System had been formalised. This will give local leaders more control over the way health care services are run in the area.

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