Health cash under scrutiny

DRASTIC measures being implemented by Ipswich Hospital in a bid to recover more than £24m of debts are to come under scrutiny.Suffolk's health scrutiny committee will call in the hospital's financial recovery plan at their meeting on November 9.

DRASTIC measures being implemented by Ipswich Hospital in a bid to recover more than £24m of debts are to come under scrutiny.

Suffolk's health scrutiny committee will call in the hospital's financial recovery plan at their meeting on November 9.

Kevan Lim, deputy leader of the county council's Labour group, said: “Following discussions with the chairman of the county council's health scrutiny committee, I am pleased that members of the county council will have the opportunity to examine in detail the impact of the hospital's recovery plans to ensure that the effect of cuts in services are clearly understood.

“It will give the scrutiny committee the chance to make clear to the hospital board the importance of ensuring patient services are not damaged.”

The health scrutiny committee has the right, by law, to examine any aspect of the operation of the health services in Suffolk.

In the last year they have referred decisions by the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts to close community hospitals like the Bartlet to health secretary Patricia Hewitt.

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Ipswich Hospital is currently battling to clear debts of £24.1m and has launched a controversial financial recovery plan which includes axing 357 jobs, closing 71 beds and shutting up to four operating theatres.

The proposals were approved by the hospital's board at a meeting last month and consultation is now on-going with staff on how the proposals will take place.

Mr Lim said: “We need to make sure the financial crisis at the hospital does not damage the quality of that care.”

David Yorke-Edwards, vice- chairman of the scrutiny committee, said: “Both the new Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Ipswich Hospital have said they will achieve their financial recovery targets while patients continue to receive high quality services. “The committee will want to know, in some detail, that this can be done.

“We will look carefully at their plans, and if necessary seek further information, and work with the trusts to make sure that people in Suffolk will still have a first class health service."

What areas do you think the councillors should be looking at? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk>

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