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Partnership working will help financial recovery

7 March 2005

At todayís (Friday, 27 May 2005) public meeting of the West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust Board members congratulated staff for identifying and successfully delivering £5.6 million worth of savings (£4.5 million recurring) during the 2004/05 financial year.

Unfortunately, the meeting heard that despite this amazing achievement the Trust, as previously predicted, was reporting a £7.4 million overspend.

This was due to a range of cost pressures including, the use of new and expensive drugs, new and replacement medical and surgical equipment, additional superannuation and consultant contract costs, implementation of Agenda for Change, the NHS new pay system and as a result of seeing and treating increasing numbers of patients.

In response to the Trustís financial position a number of tight financial control measures were continued during the year. These included an Expenditure Panel to review, challenge, and in the case of posts with no direct impact on patient care, reject, all vacancies within the Trust before they were advertised. There were also strict controls on the use of bank and agency staff leading to the Trust being able to report a significant fall in total agency costs.

"As a Trust we are spending more than is coming into the organisation and financial recovery is clearly a major challenge for the whole health system during the coming year and beyond," said Chief Executive Chris Bown.

"Priority for 2005/06 will be the delivery of further Cash Releasing Efficiency Schemes and the development of a financial recovery strategy, in partnership with Suffolk West PCT and other stakeholders, that brings the health system back to recurrent balance as a matter of urgency."

A Financial Recovery Board has been established to develop the health system recovery plan and to monitor and manage the position on a system wide basis. It comprises the Chief Executives, Finance and Medical Directors and a representative Non-executive Director from the three NHS trusts in West Suffolk (West Suffolk Hospital, Suffolk Mental Health Partnership and Suffolk West Primary Care Trusts), the Chair of the Professional Executive Committee at the PCT and the Director of Social Services, Suffolk County Council.

Chris Bown said: "The only way that we will tackle our financial difficulties is if we all work together across the whole health system. We know that there is duplication and bottlenecks in the system exacerbated by organisational barriers. We will be looking closely at the patient journey and removing these inefficiencies and where possible ensuring patients avoid admission to hospital by providing support closer to home in the community. This will not only be better for patients, improving their experience, but it will also result in more cost-effective services."



West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust