NHS boss speaks out over hospital cuts

SPIRALLING health service debts in Suffolk could have been halted if outmoded attitudes had been shelved sooner, according to an NHS chief.In an exclusive interview with the EADT, Suffolk West Primary Care Trust chief executive Mike Stonard has admitted mistakes were made and our health system is lagging behind in the modernisation stakes.

SPIRALLING health service debts in Suffolk could have been halted if outmoded attitudes had been shelved sooner, according to an NHS chief.

In an exclusive interview with the EADT, Suffolk West Primary Care Trust chief executive Mike Stonard has admitted mistakes were made and our health system is lagging behind in the modernisation stakes.

While admitting the cash crisis has sped up the process, he claims bed closures and job losses at Sudbury and Newmarket hospitals are inevitable.

Furthermore, he said the proposed cuts will not only save money but will help deliver the dynamic health system which the region has previously lacked.


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He said: “These changes should probably have been made before and we are playing catch-up a bit.

“The old-fashioned way we are delivering services is expensive, but having said that, cash crisis or not, these changes would have to be made anyway.”

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Mr Stonard said the PCT's “hand had been forced” by its estimated £20 million debt and it was “unfortunate” that the cuts were being made in response to the financial crisis, but stressed they were not as a direct result.

He also denied that the bed closures and job losses, which have sparked outcry in Newmarket and Sudbury, where campaigns have been launched to save the Walnuttree, St Leonard's and Newmarket Hospitals, are a foregone conclusion.

While advocating radical changes, he said the PCT's final decisions would depend on the results of the consultation currently underway.

He added that whatever the outcome, modernisation of services in the west of the county in some form would have to take place.

Mr Stonard said whatever changes were made would be to the benefit, rather than the detriment, of patients, adding medical evidence indicated that stays in community hospitals for recuperating patients were not as effective as home-based care.

He also said the aim of the PCT was to deliver the best possible services to patients, within the confines of its budget, but was bound by legislation to pay off its debts.

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