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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 15:52 GMT
North West: Financial crisis
Steve Rawling
The Politics Show North West

Money
Some NHS Trusts in the North West are in debt

Cutbacks are being made in health services across the North West, as trusts in the region struggle to come to terms with a new financial crisis.

Across the North West, a handful of trusts have run up debts of over £75m.

Others have only broken even because they have cut services.

And there are many who worry that this is affecting patient care.

How does this square with the record levels of funding the government is ploughing into the NHS?

On The Politics Show in the North West, we ask Health Minister Jane Kennedy what has gone wrong and look at what the financial crisis means for healthcare in your area.

How the debt problem affects the NHS in your area:

CHESHIRE

Cheshire has the biggest debt problems in the region. Eight Hospital Trusts and Primary Care Trusts in the county have run up debts amounting to £44m.

We asked each of these Trusts to tell us how they were planning to cut their costs and what impact that would have on patient care.

They issued a joint statement through the area's Strategic Health Authority saying they were "on target" in their attempts to reduce their overspend through efficiency savings.

The Strategic Health Authority did not say if Cheshire's Trusts had been forced to cut back on staff or beds in order to save money, but did say the savings had to be made with "little or no negative impact on patient care".

How the debts stack up:

  • Cheshire West Primary Care Trust - £14.7m
  • East Cheshire NHS Trust - £13.5m
  • Mid Cheshire NHS Trust - £6m
  • Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Trust (Warrington area) - £4m
  • North Cheshire NHS Trust - £2m
  • Warrington Primary Care Trust - £2m
  • Halton Primary Care Trust - £1.9m
  • Central Cheshire Primary Care Trust - £167,000

LANCASHIRE

Morecambe Bay Hospital Trust is predicting a £6.5m overspend this year and has temporarily closed 99 beds at Lancaster Royal Infirmary, Westmorland General Hospital and Furness General Hospital.

The Trust Chief Executive Ian Cummings says government funding doesn't reflect the higher costs of providing health services across large rural areas.

"We estimate it costs around £10m more to provide the same level of services in a rural environment", he added.

A recent finance document presented to the Trust states "The success of the recovery plan requires strict adherence to detailed plans particularly around bed reductions, whilst not affecting elective activity.

"Given the other pressures the Trust faces ... this must be flagged up as a very high risk strategy."

Blackpool Fylde and Wyre Trust expects to break even this year, but only because of cuts the Trust has already made to services.

Rossall Day hospital - a rehabilitation unit opened just five years ago - has been closed temporarily, along with beds in hospitals in Lytham and Fleetwood.

East Lancashire NHS Trust - also expecting to break even - said it has had to make a number of bed closures due to a combination of sick leave, maternity leave and recruitment difficulties.

But the Trust said patient care has not been affected.

MERSEYSIDE

Southport and Ormskirk NHS Trust has the largest single debt in the region - £15m.

The Trust blames rising costs of treatment, the cost of implementing the Working Time Directive and the long-term costs of running three separate hospitals.

One ward has been closed already, and according to the Trust "Further closures are anticipated, but only when either the relevant efficiencies have been achieved or a safe and sustainable alternative service in a non-acute setting has been developed."

HIGH PEAK

High Peak and Dales Primary Care Trust is facing a £2.9m debt. The Trust blames the cost of new drugs and new pay awards for staff and GPs.

The Trust has closed the Buxton's Minor Injuries Unit at night and delayed the reopening of the Spencer ward at Buxton hospital in order to reduce costs.

It promises "Services will be returned to normal as soon as the PCT has stabilised its financial deficit.

"This may not necessarily be as early as the start of the next financial year."

GREATER MANCHESTER

Two Trusts in Greater Manchester have debt problems.

Trafford Healthcare NHS Trust has a forecast debt of over £3m.

The Trust is now carrying out a review of its services, due to report next month. Local Conservative MP Graham Brady is concerned this could mean the closure of Altrincham General Hospital.

David Cain, the Trust¿s Chief Executive said: "it is now widely acknowledged that the Trust¿s financial problems can only be solved by a change to the way NHS services are delivered within Trafford.

"Our Trust has become too small to be viable in its current form."

Manchester Health and Social Care Trust has debts of just under £3m.

The Trust says it has not had to cut services, but they are reviewing any vacancies which come up to see if they can save money.

Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan
Jim Hancock presents Politics Show North West with Gill Dummigan

The Politics Show

Join Jim Hancock and Gill Dummigan on the Politics Show on Sunday 22 January 2006 at Noon on BBC One.

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