News and Information West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust
Home News and Information 

Hospital Trust Plans to Secure Future Financial Stability and Quality Patient Services

24 June 2005

Draft Financial Recovery Plans, designed to secure future financial stability and quality patient services in the west Suffolk Health system will be presented to the West Suffolk Hospital Trust Board for approval on 29 June 2005.

The Plans, which have been developed in partnership with Suffolk West PCT, will also go before the PCT Board on the same day.

Chief Executive Chris Bown said: "This is going to be a very difficult year for staff but it is important that we meet the challenges head on. We are facing a period of significant transformation for the West Suffolk Hospital, which we will have to go through to achieve financial stability. Only then will we be able to plan and develop with certainty, quality healthcare services for the people of west Suffolk.

"We have a statutory duty to balance our books and last year the Trust overspent by £7.4 million. We have to return to financial balance as a matter of urgency and we will only do this by making some difficult decisions.

"The Financial Recovery Plans for the health system includes radical action which will accelerate the pace of change and introduce new ways of working that will deliver cost-effective health services from the most appropriate setting.

"The situation we are facing is not unique to west Suffolk and it has prompted reviews of the future shape and role of District General Hospitals in many parts of the country. Hospitals like the West Suffolk are likely to look very different in the next five years as the NHS embraces new technology, changing clinical practice and European Legislation that will see GPs, hospital and community care working more closely together to deliver services closer to home."

Ahead of the Financial Recovery Plan receiving Board approval the Trust has implemented a vacancy freeze across the organisation and restricted the use of bank, agency and locum staff, which cost the Trust over £4 million a year. The main recommendations proposed in the Financial Recovery Plan include:

A reduction of 55 beds across medicine and surgery

This will be achieved by increasing the number of procedures carried out as day cases and by reducing the time patients spend in hospital.

There is clear evidence to show that patients who have day surgery have an overall better experience, improved clinical outcomes and less risk of hospital acquired infections. The Trust will improve its day case rates using the three theatres in the new Eye Treatment Centre and Day Surgery Unit. This in turn will reduce waiting times and the number of beds required in the hospital.

Working in partnership with the PCT the Trust is improving the discharge process across the hospital resulting in shorter lengths of stay and more efficient use of beds. A great deal of work is going into managing variations in patient discharge which is already reaping benefits in A&E where the Trust is consistently meeting the A&E target. Since the end of March more than 98% of patients attending the department, have been admitted, discharged or transferred within 4 hours of arrival.

Phased closure of two theatres

More efficient use of theatres and an increase in day surgery will allow the Trust to meet the December 2005 inpatient target, which is to have no patient waiting longer than 6 months for treatment. Once this has been achieved the Trust plans a phased closure of two of the nine main theatres, whilst maintaining the shorter waiting time. This supports the Trust’s plans to upgrade the airflow system in all the theatres to meet Health and Safety standards. This rolling programme of work will take two theatres out of commission at a time.

Consolidation of peripheral outpatient clinics onto the West Suffolk Hospital site

A number of outpatient clinics, currently held at Thetford Cottage, Newmarket and Walnuttree and St Leonard¹s Hospitals in Sudbury will be relocated to the West Suffolk Hospital.

Cash Releasing Efficiency Schemes (CRES) Programme

Staff in the Trust have already identified a wide range of CRESs, that will deliver savings in excess of £3 million. These measures are wide ranging from controls on stationary through to reductions in planned maintenance.

Other savings

The Recovery Plan also includes the disposal of surplus estate and a review of what the Trust spends on corporate insurances.

Reduction in workforce

The Trust’s salary bill accounts for over 62% of the organisation's expenditure, which means that when large savings have to be made a reduction in the Trust¹s workforce is inevitable.

Initial estimates suggest that a reduction in workforce in excess of 220 posts, NOT STAFF, will be required to make the necessary savings. Action already taken by the Trust around the management of vacancies, restrictions on the use of bank and agency staff and overtime will account for a significant number of these posts.

Directorates across the Trust are looking in detail at current services, new ways of working and identifying the staff and skills required to achieve the key patient targets.

The Trust will be exhausting all redeployment opportunities, the possibility of retraining and where economically appropriate, voluntary redundancy, to ensure that the number of compulsory redundancies are kept to an absolute minimum.

Project Plans are being written for every scheme included in the Recovery Plans with details of the proposed savings and how these will be achieved. The project plans will be compiled so they can be used as consultation documents to be shared with staff affected by the change and their Trade Unions.

For more information: see the Hospital's Team Briefing - June 2005



West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust