Hinchingbrooke: Hospital spells out debts and job cuts

With debts, job losses and ward closures at Hinching-brooke Hospital causing concern across the district, The Hunts Post asked the trust to explain what is happening in an open letter to our readers. This is its response: To the people of Huntingdonshire

With debts, job losses and ward closures at Hinching-brooke Hospital causing concern across the district, The Hunts Post asked the trust to explain what is happening in an open letter to our readers.

This is its response:

To the people of Huntingdonshire,

In common with many other NHS organisations, Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust is facing severe financial difficulties. Due to a variety of factors, we have to make savings amounting to £9.6million this year.


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In making these savings we are very clear that we are passionately committed to continuing to provide high quality services for local people but we are equally clear that we must do this within budget to secure the trust's financial viability. Last year we reduced our costs by £2.4million, our beds by 17 per cent and the average length of stay by 10 per cent. Unfortunately these cost reductions were not enough.

The savings we are now looking to make total £9.6million. We have identified £5million worth of pay and non pay savings through reducing the amount we spend on bank, agency and locum (temporary) staff, not renewing temporary contracts, offering early retirement and freezing vacancies and the board has reluctantly asked that we consult on up to 200 redundancies.

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The consultation on the first wave of 41 jobs began on July 4 with at-risk letters sent to almost 200 staff. This consultation will end at the beginning of August, when we will begin to consult on the second wave of jobs, which will include trust wide reviews of senior management and clerical/admin jobs as well as clinical roles.

We are working very hard to ensure that, through new ways of working and reconfiguring our services, the job losses have as little impact as possible on the care we offer our patients. This is a very difficult time for our fantastic team of staff who continue to show the utmost professionalism and to care for patients to the high standard for which the trust is renowned.

In addition, we are looking to reduce our overheads by moving as much elective surgery as possible into our new state of the art treatment centre and moving Oak, Larch and Cedar wards to the front of the hospital, offering better facilities for all patients. We have already closed Rowan ward, providing a much better environment for the majority of women patients in the treatment centre.

We are looking hard to find as many potential savings as possible in our operational day to day activity before reviewing our overall service provision. By making small changes to individual services, we hope to maximise savings without affecting patient care.

The board has now supported a proposal to reconfigure emergency care at night. This service, which is currently used by a very small number of patients between the hours of midnight and 8am, will become part of a more integrated approach to caring for our patients at night. As with all other decisions, the welfare of our patients is the paramount consideration.

There are currently no plans to discontinue any of the services provided to our patients. We are undertaking a detailed piece of work to be clear about which of the savings identified will be maintained year on year.

The savings we need to make have always been £9.6million. These were identified in April 2006 and originally comprised £5.1million pay savings, £1.9million non pay savings and £2.6million additional income. The income figure is now included in the savings target following a further assessment of the trust's ability to secure additional income.

We wish to reassure all the people who rely on us for their health care that their needs are our top priority. We must address and solve our financial problems to secure the viability of the hospital and we are doing our utmost to do this while continuing to offer the unique brand of care on which the local population depends.

Liz Pointing

Acting Chief Executive

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