Health trust tightens belt

A HEALTH trust in west Suffolk has achieved more than £11m of savings in just nine months.Suffolk West Primary Care Trust was facing debts of £22.6m in July last year but this had been reduced to £11.5m by March.

A HEALTH trust in west Suffolk has achieved more than £11m of savings in just nine months.

Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (PCT) was facing debts of £22.6m in July last year but this had been reduced to £11.5m by the end of the last financial year in March.

The savings are the result of a financial recovery plan which was implemented immediately after a fresh management team, headed by chief executive Mike Stonard, came into the PCT over the summer.

Mr Stonard said: “I am delighted that the new management team has delivered such large savings in so short a space of time.

“When I came to the PCT last year the projected year-end problem was £22.6m. We have now reduced this, over only nine months, to a £11.46m deficit, £9.1m of which was repayment of previous debt.

“This is a great tribute to all staff, throughout the organisation, who have taken the financial challenges seriously and who have worked very hard and with great tenacity to reduce costs.

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“If we keep up our efforts we have every chance of wiping out the debt by the end of the year, which will be good news for patients, staff and everyone living in west Suffolk.”

Some of the key features of the financial recovery plan included:

Vacancy management, including a reduction in management costs of £320,000

Prescribing initiatives in primary care, such as switching to better value brands, which resulted in savings of £933,000

A reduction in expenditure on extra contractual referrals (ECRs) which involved working with Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust to bring back patients from expensive out-of-county private providers and reproviding health care in the local NHS. This saved £927,000

More robust negotiating and contracting with service providers, such as hospitals, saved about £3m.

The board of Suffolk West PCT will meet in the Gibson Centre, Newmarket Hospital, on Wednesday at 9.30am.

Elsewhere in the NHS, bosses at the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) last week announced they had reduced their debt by £17.4million turning a £14m overspend in 2004-05 to a £3m underspent the following year.

However, Ipswich Hospital bosses last week discovered a £7m hole in their finances, meaning they have to make around £20m of savings this year.

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