NHS looking at £98m in savings over four years

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NHS bosses in Doncaster are looking to save £98 million over the next four years.

That is the figure approved by regional health bosses for NHS Doncaster, the primary care trust which serves the borough.

The figure represents 17 per cent of the total the trust will be spending in 2014-15.

Ron Calvert, chief executive at the Doncaster and Bassetlaw hospitals trust, said he believed the NHS was “more than capable” of rising to the challenge.

The trust runs the Doncaster Royal Infirmary and the Mexborough Montagu Hospital.

Mr Calvert said one key aim in reducing hospital admissions lay in creating an “integrated care” approach by stepping in early to help patients who might otherwise seek hospital treatment.

He believes by improving the quality of care for people with long-term chronic conditions, it could also ultimately reduce costs.

He said: “If you can support people in their own homes, instead of requiring a hospital admission four, five or six times a year sometimes for weeks at a time, you can often confine them to one or fewer admissions a year.”

He said improvements in telehealth meant patients’ vital signs could be monitored remotely but it was also important to encourage patients and families to be better informed so they knew how to respond to problems.

He added: “It becomes a virtuous rather than a vicious circle because the more you pre-empt and manage patients in a less expensive setting, the greater the chances of dealing with an increase in demand.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Mike Farrar said the savings were the biggest challenge the NHS had ever faced.

He said NHS organisations needed to take radical action now to avoid a significant reduction in the standards of patient care.

Unison regional general secretary John Cafferty said the scale of savings required would damage patient care.

He has raised concerns over cuts to jobs and ward closures.