Up to four wards to close at hospital

EXCLUSIVEBy Danielle NuttallUP to four wards could be closed at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital in an effort to save money, the East Anglian Daily Times has learned.


By Danielle Nuttall

UP to four wards could be closed at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital in an effort to save money, the East Anglian Daily Times has learned.

Health bosses would not confirm the move last night, but sources said the action was likely to be taken as the hospital grappled with savings targets and debt from previous years.

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Ipswich Hospital Trust needs to find £18.6million by the end of March 2006 to balance the books.

This year's budget includes the need to make efficiency savings of £6.9m and to repay the £4.7m cumulative debt from other years.

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Jan Rowsel, hospital spokeswoman, said: “I cannot confirm four wards are going to close.

“A detailed financial recovery plan is currently being drawn up, which has not been finalised and has not gone to the board for formal agreement.

“All recovery plans have to go to the trust board. What we have said and have been open about is clearly there will be changes to services.

“We know the scale of the challenge. We shared with staff the fact we need to make £18.6m savings this year. We will put our recovery plan into the public domain once it is finalised.”

Last month Ipswich Hospital contacted its staff for ideas on how it could tackle the huge financial challenge.

The 800-bed hospital is working with Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts and the Suffolk Mental Health Partnership to draw up a recovery plan.

The trust's savings plan included reducing the use of agency and temporary staff and non-pay expenditure as well as making sure patients were cared for in the most appropriate place - at the hospital or in the community.

But the initiatives did not reduce the number of patients being treated at the hospital and the trust now needs to save a total of £18.6m this year.

The news of possible ward closures comes weeks after it was revealed the forecast deficit for the whole health system across Suffolk in the current year was £42.5m, including the required repayment of last year's deficit of £19m.

Cost reduction measures include the West Suffolk Hospitals Trust axing 220 posts, closing more than 50 beds and shutting two surgeries at its hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

Almost 100 posts and 16 beds are to be cut at Newmarket Hospital, while 145 posts, 68 beds and inpatient services at Walnuttree Hospital, Sudbury, and inpatient services at St Leonard's Hospital, Sudbury, are also to be axed, subject to consultation.

Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust axed 16 beds and the minor injuries unit at Aldeburgh Hospital and removed 25 beds from the Bartlet Hospital, Felixstowe.


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