Hospital bosses admit toughest time ever

IPSWICH Hospital bosses today said they are facing the toughest time of their NHS careers, but vowed things will get better.The hospital's chairman Christine Smart, who has been working in the health service for more than 35 years, said: “I've never been through anything like this in my career in the NHS.

IPSWICH Hospital bosses today said they are facing the toughest time of their NHS careers, but vowed things will get better.

The hospital's chairman Christine Smart, who has been working in the health service for more than 35 years, said: “I've never been through anything like this in my career in the NHS.”

Andrew Reed, the hospital's chief executive, agreed: “The change has been profound. We are seeing changes that were introduced three or four years ago coming through and beginning to bite. The pace of change is more rapid as well.”

Their words come the day after the Evening Star revealed the hospital may have to close beds and restrict their community midwives service as they battle their £16m debt.

But Mr Reed said he believed the difficult times would, ultimately, be for the best.

He said: “I think it can be described as growing pains. We've got to go through it to get to the point where hospitals are reaching a level of efficiency and transparency in their accounting that is similar to any business.

Most Read

“The NHS has been protected from that in the past.”

Mrs Smart said: “We've always managed to balance the books at the end of the day. The way the accounts have worked have meant there's always been a bit of money in one teapot or another to help us out - but that's not there any more.”

As well as the financial pressures, one of the new challenges facing the hospital is the government's drive to give patients more choice. Patients who need an operation will be given a choice of several places where they can be treated - including independent hospitals - meaning Ipswich Hospital could see less people coming through its doors.

Mr Reed said: “We've got to recognise that patients have every right to decide whether they want to be treated at Ipswich or elsewhere.

“There is a growing awareness of quality of care. Look, for example, at peoples' concerns over MRSA.

“Word of mouth is incredibly important in that respect too and we've got to accept that.”

Mrs Smart added: “The huge challenge for us is to make sure we remain the hospital of choice.”

As the Star revealed two weeks ago, the hospital is planning to cut 105 jobs.

Mr Reed confirmed discussions with trade unions were on-going and said a definitive decision on the exact number of jobs would be made within 90 days.

He said: “There's an obvious degree of concern and upset and we have to understand that, but we're doing our best to avoid job losses wherever we can.”

Have you been affected by the hospital's financial problems? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter