PCT saves £11m in nine months

BUYING cheaper drugs and ending expensive private sector packages for patients have helped a primary care trust cut £11 million from its debts.Last year Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT) revealed it was £22.

BUYING cheaper drugs and ending expensive private sector packages for patients have helped a primary care trust cut £11 million from its debts.

Last year Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT) revealed it was £22.6 million in the red.

A new management team was put in place and, in December last year, management consultants paid for by the Department of Health were brought in to try and bring the trust's finances back in line.

Tomorrow the trust will announce savings of £11 million have been made in the past nine months - nearly £2 million more than the target set.

Health managers claim the trust can clear the rest of the debt by the end of the year.

But the savings come amid plans to close all in-patient beds at Newmarket Hospital and Sudbury's Walnuttree Hospital, and to close St Leonards Hospital in Sudbury before transferring its services over to Walnuttree.

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And Gill Malik , Unison national executive member and cleaner at West Suffolk Hospital, yesterday criticised the trust for not making the savings sooner.

“Why has it taken the trust to be driven to the brink of no return to get their act together. It is a pity they were not already doing these things,” she said.

Mike Stonard, the trust's chief executive who took over the reins last summer, said: “I am delighted that the new management team has delivered such large savings in so short a space of time.

“When I came to the PCT last year, the projected year-end problem was £22.6 million which was 9.6% of our annual budget.

“We have now reduced this, over only nine months, to a £11.46m deficit, £9.1 million of which was repayment of previous debt.”

The trust saved £320,000 by cutting management costs, nearly £1 million by switching to “better value brands” of medicines, nearly £1 million by bringing back patients from expensive out-of-county private health service providers and £3 million by being more robust in its negotiating with other trusts, including NHS hospitals.

Mr Stoner added: “This is a great tribute to all staff, throughout the organisation, who have taken the financial challenges seriously and who have worked very hard and with great tenacity to reduce costs.”

During the past nine months, all patients were able to have an appointment with their GP within 48 hours.

The board of the PCT will meet at the Gibson Centre at Newmarket Hospital tomorrow morning at 9.30am and the meeting is public.

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