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Last Updated: Friday, 27 January 2006, 09:17 GMT
Trusts battle to lower 50m debt
By Greig Watson
BBC News Nottingham

Protestors march over ward closure
Cut backs and ward closures have provoked protests
The NHS in the East Midlands is struggling with almost 50m of debt, a BBC survey of trusts has revealed.

Three trusts - United Lincolnshire Hospitals, East Lincolnshire and Nottingham City Hospital have debts of 5m or more.

Most managers said they had saving plans in place and expected to break even by the end of the financial year.

But the two Lincolnshire trusts said debts could soar to nearly 20m and a "turnaround team" has been sent in.

I used to work in local government and if I had managed things in this way I would have been fired
Geoffrey Smith, Leicester Patient and Public Involvement Forum

Attempts to claw back the overspend by closing wards in Grantham, Stamford and Skegness have provoked protest marches.

In Leicestershire the debts total 16.2m, with Hinckley and Bosworth Primary Care Trust having the greatest overspend of 3.6m.

Managers said they were concentrating their efforts on getting better value for money on contracts from major suppliers.

Trusts in the county have admitted they are considering delaying routine operations - for which they pay the hospitals - until the new financial year.

Geoffrey Smith, of the Leicester Patient and Public Involvement Forum said: "We are very worried about the impact on services of the current pressure on finances.

TRUST DEFICITS
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust - 7.896m
East Lincolnshire PCT - 6.7m
Nottingham City Hospital NHS Trust - 6.3m
Eastern Leicester PCT - 5m
Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust - 4m
(figs for Nov/Dec 2005)

"I used to work in local government and if I had managed things in this way I would have been fired.

"But to be fair I have never seen anything reorganised or have its targets changed so often as the heath service and that makes management far harder."

In Derbyshire, the High Peak and Dales PCT faces a debt of 2.9m and has cut the hours of the minor injuries unit at Buxton Hospital.

It has also closed wards at the New Holme and Cavendish hospitals and put a freeze on staff recruitment.

'Challenging situation'

But the trust points out it has reduced its overdraft from a high of 5.9m and all reductions are temporary.

Across Nottinghamshire, the total debt was more than 11.7m, with Nottingham City Hospital Trust facing a shortfall of 6.3m.

But they said a one-off funding boost of 3m, a hiring freeze and a ward reorganisation with some closures is reducing this.

Trent Strategic Health Authority said in a statement: "The situation has been very challenging but we hope to achieve financial balance.

"We always aim to share best practice across the region and we have 'turnaround teams' in most challenged organisations."




SEE ALSO:
Hospital merger 'will go ahead'
17 Jan 06 |  Nottinghamshire
Hospital trust overspend worsens
16 Jan 06 |  Lincolnshire
Cash offered to struggling trusts
13 Jan 06 |  Leicestershire
Operation waits reduced in county
30 Dec 05 |  Lincolnshire


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