Region's health debts among worst in UK

A FIFTH of the country's overall health debts can be found in our region, according to the latest government figures.Health authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire had a forecast overspend of £100.

A FIFTH of the country's overall health debts can be found in our region, according to the latest government figures.

Health authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire had a forecast overspend of £100.4million for the end of 05/06, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt announced yesterday.

Although the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) managed to save £15.7m, primary care trusts within the three counties overspent by £78.5m and NHS trusts by £37.6m.

This is the second highest debt of any health authority in the country with only Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire in a worse position having accumulated a debt of £107.9m.


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Meanwhile health authorities in Essex were forecast to make a loss of £6m by the end of 05/06.

It means the majority of the region's health bosses will have to look at further ways to shrink costs in a bid to trim the deficits.

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They are already proposing to close and sell community hospitals in Felixstowe and Sudbury, reduce beds at Aldeburgh, Ipswich, West Suffolk and Newmarket as well as cut jobs in a number of areas.

Nationally NHS deficit has more than doubled in the last year to £512m compared to the £221m of 04/05.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA said there was an improvement in financial fortunes but there was still plenty of work to be done before trusts broke even.

She said: “Across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire our overall outturn was an overspend of £100m, on total income of £2.4billion.

“The overspend includes debts incurred in previous years. The in-year position is an overspend of £32m, which is an improvement on the in-year position of the previous year (2004-05), which was £68m.

“We are starting to see improvements in the finances of several NHS bodies. The number of trusts and PCTs balancing their books year-on-year actually increased from 11 to 16 out of 28 in 2005-06. We require all organisations to return to in-year balance during 2006-07.

“All NHS bodies need to put in place proposals to restore financial balance. Those NHS bodies without proper plans are using specialist financial turnaround support to help them produce savings.”

Speaking yesterday in the House of Commons Ms Hewitt said all organisations with deficits should reach monthly balance by the start of next April and that turnaround teams were helping organisations to maintain and improve patient care within their budgets.

“There will be difficult decisions to be made, particularly in the minority of trusts with substantial deficits,” she said. “But there will not be the whole scale redundancies across the NHS that some commentators have forecast.”

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