Essex PCT blunder dismissed

THE extreme pressure on those working in the local health service was revealed yesterday in an embarrassing admission of desperation left on key papers.

By Roddy Ashworth

THE extreme pressure on those working in the local health service was revealed yesterday in an embarrassing admission of desperation left on key papers.

Official health documents circulated by the North East Essex Primary Care Trust (PCT) contained a detailed breakdown of a 55-day plan during which £1.8 million must be saved.

On Day seven, the action required by health chiefs was to “assess opportunities to reduce unidentified savings.”


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On Day 49 bosses are scheduled to “review current position and agree remedial action.”

But on day 55 - the final deadline for the money to be saved - the action required is just one word: “Cry !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

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Yesterday PCT chiefs played down the error, claiming that it did not feature on the trust's official website and was probably inserted as a joke by a staff member.

But it was contained in a bundle of attachments emailed out to councillors, journalists and trust employees.

Yesterday Bernard Jenkin, MP for North Essex, said the blunder highlighted the difficulties in the current system. “I can just imagine how difficult it must be to operate in a system that is in such chaos.

“I have personally been briefed by one of the top consultants in Colchester who has been instructed that patients must wait for 20 weeks before treatment, not because theatres are busy but simply to delay operations and save money.

“The staff must be despair in what they are having to do - inflicting pain on the health service.

“It shows that the Government's health policy has completely failed despite nearly trebling the NHS budget.”

However, yesterday Paul Zollinger-Read, the PCT's chief executive defended the trust's performance and predicted improvements next year.

He claimed the policy of delaying operations amounted to sensible budget management.

“The 55-day plan is a way of managing and monitoring efficiencies that have already been put in place,” he said.

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