Transport cuts at hospital

PATIENTS who need transport to their appointments at Ipswich Hospital are the latest people to be hit by the organisation's cash crisis.

By SARAH GILLETT, health reporter,

sarah.gillett@eveningstar.co.uk>

PATIENTS who need transport to their appointments at Ipswich Hospital are the latest people to be hit by the organisation's cash crisis.

As bosses search for more than £16m of savings the hospital's transport services are to be reviewed and patients must now prove that they meet a set of stringent criteria before they are offered lifts to and from their appointments.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: “We have put in place a set of criteria to make sure that we are only funding transport for people who need it most.

“It's about looking at every penny we spend. We want to put as much money as possible in to patient care so we are looking at all the other non-clinical areas.”

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Ms Rowsell stressed that the measures will only affect people coming in for non-urgent outpatients appointments and that there are no restrictions on urgent ambulance transport.

She said: “It came from a staff suggestion and was one of the things we have implemented immediately.

“Before this transport was available for everybody, irrespective of need, but a lot of people are in a position where they can provide their own transport.

“Other hospitals had a much clearer policy than we did and we were providing more transport to people than other places did, so it was clear that this was an area in which we could improve.”

The cuts are the latest in a long line of money-saving schemes being implemented by the hospital as they strive to pay off a £16.7m debt.

Other ideas already carried out include switching off air-conditioning units and reducing the amount of money spent on stationery.

A team of hospital staff is currently in the process of drawing up a full savings plan which is likely to include around 350 job losses.

The final plan will be unveiled at the hospital's board meeting on September 28.

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