PCTs will not meet targets

SUFFOLK's debt-ridden health trust will fail to meet its savings target by the end of this year, it was revealed today.Papers due to go before the Suffolk Primary Care Trust's (PCT) board next week show that, despite continuing to make savings, the organisation will fall £10.

SUFFOLK's debt-ridden health trust will fail to meet its savings target by the end of this year, it was revealed today.

Papers due to go before the Suffolk Primary Care Trust's (PCT) board next week show that, despite continuing to make savings, the organisation will fall £10.7m short of its end-of-year target.

The PCT, which currently has a debt of around £35m, has been ordered to pay back £16.7m of this by the end of March by its bosses the East of England Strategic Health Authority. (SHA)

However, the trust's current forecasts show that this figure is more likely to be £6m.

A spokeswoman for the PCT claimed they did not know what would be the consequence of not paying off the debt and no-one was available for comment at the SHA today.

However Julian Herbert, director of finance, said: “Our plans to pay off the PCT's historic debt, which currently stands at £35.4m, remain robust and we are working hard to hit the East of England SHA's control target. The PCT is not overspending.

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“We predict that we will end this year with an historic debt position of £29.4m. We know it is a considerable challenge and it is important we repay as much of the debt as possible.

“Meanwhile, key service targets and providing safe patient services remain a priority.”

Figures due to go before the PCT's board at its meeting next Wednesday show that the trust has spent £357m since April, which is £5m more than expected.

Some of the reasons the PCT give for struggling to bring the debt down include not being able to make as many savings as they had hoped by prescribing generic drugs instead of brand-name ones, receiving less money than expected from the government and not being able to reduce admissions to hospitals as much as they had hoped.

The Suffolk PCT was formed from an amalgamation of the Suffolk East, Suffolk Coastal, Ipswich and Suffolk West primary care trusts in October.

It currently has bases in Ipswich, Felixstowe and Bury St Edmunds but is due to move in to a new office in Bramford early next year -a move which has come under fire from health campaigners who have seen several health services closed this year due to the organisation's debts.

Among the services that have closed this year are the Bartlet Hospital in Felixstowe and several day hospitals for elderly people with mental health problems.

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