Yorkshire hospital trusts forced into £140m of cuts

Julian Hartley: , Chief Executive of Leeds NHS Trust wants to see financial stability.
Julian Hartley: , Chief Executive of Leeds NHS Trust wants to see financial stability.
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Cash-strapped hospital bosses across Yorkshire will attempt to make at least £140million of cuts over the next year.

An analysis of budgets for several of the largest regional NHS hospital trusts has revealed that multimillion-pound plans to cut costs are being enforced in a bid to edge trusts out of the red.

In the face of soaring demand for services and just weeks after indebted hospital trusts posted huge deficits, several regional trusts are chasing ambitious targets to edge into surplus in 2016/17.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (LTH), which is one of the largest hospital trusts in Yorkshire, aims to make £65m of savings alone as it forecasts a £1.2m profit for the next year just months after posting a £30.2m deficit for 2015/16.

Elsewhere both Mid Yorkshire Hospitals (MYH) and York Teaching Hospital are planning to make £26m of cuts respectively, while Hull and East Yorkshire will try to save £19m. Union representatives, meanwhile, have voiced fears that further cuts to services will put yet more pressure on an NHS already “at breaking point”.

LTH chief executive Julian Hartley has announced that its goal for the year is “to achieve financial sustainability” by adjusting budgets, building on changes already made and rolling out initiatives to manage stock to cut waste.

The plan relies on the organisation finding a huge swathe of savings while meeting performance targets to help it secure around £22m from Government’s Sustainability and Transformation Fund (STF).

In April, the first month of the new plan, the trust recorded a £3.4m deficit, which was slightly better than planned, as bosses hope to recoup funds and cut costs as the year progresses.

Mr Hartley said: “The first objective is to improve financial margins to support the delivery of high quality care.”

It is unclear as to where the £65m of cost savings will be made as LTH board papers show that almost £40m of those cuts are yet to be identified. It’s understood no job cuts will be sought by the trust following a year in which LTH made savings of £70m. The trust has a £1.1billion budget.

Stacey Booth, GMB regional organiser for Yorkshire, claims that the underfunding of local hospitals by Government is resulting in staff leaving their posts, the potential ‘downbanding’ of roles and more outsourcing to private providers. It’s already impacting people,” she said. “The problem is there isn’t enough money to pay for the work within the NHS, staffing levels are a huge concern and we are relying on small numbers to do the work of more people.”

She continued: “There isn’t anywhere else to cut. we are at breaking point and unless something is done there wont be an NHS as we know it.”

A £4.2m surplus has also been forecast at MYH, despite the trust recording a deficit of nearly £15m last year. The trust is banking on hitting targets to secure £16.7m from the STF while making £26m of cuts.