Ipswich: Hospital chiefs: It’s tough but we are fighting back

IPSWICH: Times are tough but we are fighting back.

That is the message today from Ipswich Hospital’s top bosses as they attempt to balance the books at the struggling trust.

In the midst of a consultation period, which is set to see around 150 jobs axed on top of a further 100 which were earmarked for redundancy earlier this year, The Evening Star revealed on Monday the hospital is set to receive a �3million handout to help pay for redundancies.

Accepting the struggles ahead, chief executive Andrew Reed told the Star while times will be tough, the “great can do” spirit at the hospital is uniting clinical and managerial staff at a challenging time.

In answer to ten questions put to the trust, Mr Reed said they expected 150 jobs would be lost in total, with around 70 posts already approved for voluntary redundancy.

He said all roles across the trust, including directors, senior, middle and line managers are included in the review.

As part of the consultation the management team is working closely with doctors and other clinical staff to ensure outpatient departments and operating theatres can run as efficiently as possible to manage patient demand.

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Addressing the question of patient safety he said: “Each scheme in our recovery programme undergoes a review led by our nurse director and medical director to assess the impact on quality.

“Patient safety is a core aim for the hospital – we would not consider financial reductions that put patient safety at risk to be acceptable.”

The hospital has accrued around �11.6million debt this year, that is on top of the historic debt and the trust’s PFI debt of �45m for the Garratt Anderson centre.

Primary care trust NHS Suffolk is today in negotiations with the hospital board over the �3m handout, part of transition funding to help “support change” at the trust.

In a bid to pull the hospital’s books out of the red, Mr Reed said the management team was looking at a number of areas to tackle the debt.

He said it focused on saving money on supplies, centralising some administrative services and reducing the need for and cost of agency staff.

Mr Reed added: “Fragile as it is bound to be in times of challenge, the hospital has always had a great ‘can do’ spirit that unites clinical and managerial staff together.

“All NHS managers accept they are subject to criticism when things go wrong, but get little praise when they go right, for example when the hospital was named Hospital of The Year in 2010.

“The job of the management team is to address the challenges we now face, not to consider any personal consequences if they don’t.”

Going forward the management team is today focusing on managing the winter, and the pressures it brings to ensure waiting times are kept short.

While the cuts hang over the trust, so too does the issue of lost services.

The hospital faces losing some vascular surgery to Colchester from next spring. Mr Reed added: “No other services are under immediate threat, although we are always reviewing the way in which services are carried out.”

n What do you think of the hospital’s response? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk