Hospital shortfall won’t mean service cuts

CUTS to Harrogate Hospital’s funding mean the trust will need to find £7m of savings in the next financial year.

But health chiefs in Harrogate have been quick to reassure people that the figure represented a slice of the much wider savings needed across the whole of the NHS as a result of reductions in government funding.

The chairman of North Yorkshire’s Scrutiny of Health Committee, Coun Jim Clark, said: “It isn’t a surprise to me at all. Every hospital around the country is being required to make savings and Harrogate is no different from the rest.”

He said the figure was just part of the ongoing changes necessary across the NHS over the next four years to achieve the broader savings needed and that, in Harrogate, this would mean an increased focus on making use of community hospitals and other community care services.

“There will be no loss of services and if there were any major changes coming my committee would have to be consulted and then we would consult with the public,” he said.

A meeting of the board of directors of Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust on Wednesday night was told the trust was facing an overspend of £1.185m for 2011. This was due in part to a decrease in income from private and NHS patients and increase in pay needed to cover staff vacanices and sickness, particularly in the emergency department.

Andrew Jones, MP for Harrogate and Knaresborough, said he had spoken to trust chairman Sandra Dodson as soon as the shortfall was announced.

“Ms Dodson assured me there will be no cuts to services,” said Mr Jones.

“In fact, despite this mid-year shortfall, the financial report shows the situation to be improving month by month and the trust anticipates a surplus by year end.”

He added that while specific news on how the hospital would reorganise in order to meet the need for savings wasn’t yet available, the significant investments made by the trust showed its dedication to patients, such as plans for a new ear, nose and throat facility, day care surgery theatre and oncology centre, all already under way.

“This impressive investment will help reduce treatment times, introduce the latest technology and improve patient care,” said Mr Jones.

“In a hospital that is renowned for the quality of its care and for the dedication of its staff I know that the board always put patient care first when making any changes.”