Hospitals in bid to find £8m savings

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Hospital bosses in Sheffield have brought in a management consultancy firm to help them find millions of pounds of savings.

Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has hired multinational consultancy giant Deloitte to help find £8 million of savings a year in the general surgery department.

But the decision to pay the firm £150,000 over the next month to help cut the budget by around 20 per cent has been criticised by the Unison union, who predict job losses will be a result.

The general surgery department, which employs 400 staff to carry out 7,000 operations a year at the Northern General and Royal Hallamshire hospitals, reports a deficit of roughly £2m each year.

However a new accounting rule called service line reporting, which changes the way the department’s budget is calculated, has put the annual deficit closer to £8m - around 20 per cent of the budget.

Paul Skinner, clinical director of the general surgery department, said in a letter to staff that managers had decided to bring in Deloitte to save £2m by next year, and £8m a year in the longer term.

He said: “A large proportion of our costs are not our own and with the number of medical outliers and the reduction in access to theatres, this is obviously one of the areas that we are all well aware needs further work to ensure financial balance.

“However, we do live in a difficult financial climate and this will only get harder.”

Charlie Carruth, Sheffield organiser for Unison, which represents 7,000 staff at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “It doesn’t take a genius to calculate that if you are overspending by £2m or £8m a year, but providing a high-quality service, you are calculating your budget wrong.”

“For the hospital to say this will benefit staff and patients is clearly not true.

“It is clear that at the end of this there will be a recommendation on the table to cut staff - that is the main cost.

“Deloitte have been brought in to do a hatchet job.”

Kirsten Major, director of service development at the hospitals, said the trust had previously managed to cover the budget deficit, but a reduction in NHS funding meant they now had to take a different approach.

She said: “We have decided to support our own staff by investing £150,000 to give them access to a team of experts, including clinicians, who have specialist knowledge and experience in other UK and European hospitals of new systems, processes and best clinical practice.

“They will bring ideas of what we could adopt here in Sheffield to benefit patients and at the same time get maximum value for money.

“This is a continuation of work which we have been doing over the past two years to ensure we provide the right care, in the right place at the right time and in the most efficient way.

“Small improvements would by far exceed the £150,000 cost of the consultancy support as well as deliver real benefits to patients.”