Trust needs to make £5m cuts

By Rebecca SheppardTHE head of a trust providing Suffolk's mental health services has warned of the “radical changes” needed to make huge savings.Mark Halladay, chief executive of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust, issued the warning ahead of a meeting where a series of cuts and possible staff redundancies will be considered.

By Rebecca Sheppard

THE head of a trust providing Suffolk's mental health services has warned of the “radical changes” needed to make huge savings.

Mark Halladay, chief executive of the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership Trust, issued the warning ahead of a meeting where a series of cuts and possible staff redundancies will be considered.

He has also written to all staff setting out the four proposals to save more than £5million in six to eight months.

The ways of saving money - which include the “serious action” of closing services and the change, merger or reduction in teams - will be considered at a board meeting on July 28.

Staff, users, carers and organisations have been consulted over the past two days, with directors and managers carrying out further reviews and assessing the impact of the proposals for discussion on July 20 and 27.

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Mr Halladay said the trust was trying to do two things at once - modernise its services and save money, along with the rest of the NHS system.

“For us it means that we have to make savings of more than £5m in the next six to eight months and certainly by the end of March 2006,” he said.

“The £5m comes from two areas. Around £3.5m is ours alone in Suffolk Mental Health Partnership and the rest has to be saved from mental health expenditure across the board.

“This is a very large sum of money to save in a short period of time and this means we will have to be more radical in the changes we propose than we have been previously.”

Mr Halladay said there were four main ways of both modernising the service and saving money.

“We can firstly stop developments which we were planning to start and therefore save the money,” he said.

“Secondly, we can close services, which is a serious action but necessary to save the money we need to. The impact on service users and staff will be measured and addressed.

“The third and major way of modernising and saving money is to review services with the objective of deciding to amalgamate teams, change them or reduce them.

“Lastly, there are some management actions which can be taken to reduce costs.”

Developments the trust is proposing to postpone or stop are 72-hour assessment, early intervention service and consultant psychotherapy service.

The trust is also proposing closing The Hollies, The Clubhouses and Eastgate ward in Bury St Edmunds

Services or areas, which the trust is proposing to review with a view to amalgamating, changing or reducing them, include: management costs; all community and acute services; integration of adult and older people's community services; rehabilitation and assertive outreach services; crisis resolution/home treatment and acute services; and day services.

The trust is also looking at continuing its vacancy controls and restrictions on external advertising of posts, and further restrictions on use of agency and bank staff

Mr Halladay said: “We understand that everyone, staff, patients and the wider community may be unsettled about the proposed actions and staff will be worried about their jobs.

“Managers will be talking to staff and listening to their views over the next few weeks. Representatives from the users and carers groups and the Suffolk Patient and Public Involvement Forum have also been briefed.

“Members and users in those areas suggested for closure will be consulted and have the situation explained fully once we know that the proposals have been agreed by the board.

“We want to stress that redundancy will be the last thing to be considered after all other options have been looked at. The trust will be working with neighbouring NHS trusts, and Suffolk County Council where relevant, to try to generate redeployment opportunities within the NHS.”

rebecca.sheppard@eadt.co.uk

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