SPECIAL REPORT: South Yorkshire NHS services facing £571m funding shortfall by 2020

Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield
Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield
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Sheffield health bosses have spoken of their funding fears for NHS services in the city - as South Yorkshire faces a £570m budget black hole by 2020.

At a public meeting it was revealed Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust is facing the prospect of going into deficit next year for the first time after being asked to make an extra £4m of cuts.

Health bosses also admitted it is getting ‘harder and harder’ for people to see their GP, while the city’s hospitals are seeing their services come under increasing pressure.

The meeting, organised by the Sheffield Save Our NHS group as part of the Festival of Debate, heard that nationally the NHS is facing a £22 billion budget black hole that needs to be filled by 2020.

The speakers included several of the city’s most senior health bosses, who were all talking in a personal capacity about the challenges facing the city’s NHS.

It comes after a Sustainability and Transformation Plan for NHS services in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw revealed there is an estimated £571m financial shortfall for health and care services by 2020/2021.

The plan, which covers services in Sheffield, Rotherham, Doncaster, Barnsley and Bassetlaw, said: “Doing nothing is not an option.

“The way we are organised is out of date compared to people’s needs – we therefore need to rethink and improve how health and care services are delivered.”

The report warns that 'radical change' is needed in local NHS and health care services is needed to help find hundreds of millions of pounds in savings by 2020, a major new report has warned.

The estimated funding shortfall by 2020/2021 is made up of £464m relating to the health service and £107m for social care and public health.

The report said: “The scale of the challenge demonstrates why radical change is needed, both in the way services are delivered and in the way people use them.”

Health organisations across the region currently spend £3.9 billion on providing services to the area’s 1.5 million residents, covering things like hospitals, mental health, GP services and prescribed drugs.

Consultations are currently taking place on potentially stopping providing some children’s operations in Barnsley, Chesterfield and Rotherham, as well as on Barnsley and Rotherham hospitals no longer providing hyper acute care for people who have had a stroke.

Details of the huge financial challenges facing local NHS services were discussed at a public meeting in Sheffield on Tuesday by senior health bosses, who were all speaking in a personal capacity rather than as a representative of their organisation.

Kevan Taylor, chief executive of the Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Two-thirds of trusts are in deficit.

“My organisation has never been in deficit. Next year we are probably going to be. That is really not good.

“We have been financially sustainable for many, many years. We had a plan to take out £4.3m but that has just gone up to £8.3m. I’m not sure we can do that.

“If trusts like ourselves are facing financial difficulties next year that is serious.

“Our community mental health teams are having more pressure put on them. The financial situation is very difficult.

“If you look at the greatest health inequalities, it is people with severe mental health problems who dies on average 20 years earlier. People with longer-term mental health problems often have poor physical health.”

Tim Moorhead, chairman of Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group, said city health services are currently missing NHS targets on waiting times such as being able to see a doctor within four hours at A&E and having an operation within 18 weeks of it being required.

He added: “On the whole, you can see a GP is it is really urgent.

“But if you want to see your regular GP, it is getting harder and harder. I’m honest, it is getting more and more difficult.”

He said once people do get seen, they typically receive a ‘really good service’.

Mr Moorhead said money needs to be spent carefully to deal with the financial challenges facing the NHS.

He said: “We get about £840m a year just for Sheffield, an enormous amount of money for the 560,000 people living in the city.

“We have got quite a lot of resource, we just need to deploy it really well.”

Mr Moorhead said social care services being ‘massively under-invested’ has had a ‘big impact on the health service’.

He added: “We have a problem with the rest of the NHS in South Yorkshire and Bassetlaw, with big problems with debt in their hospitals.”

He said the solutions include more care in the community delivered closer to people’s homes and encouraging residents to look after their health issues by themselves as much as possible.

Kirsten Major, director of strategy and operations at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said real-terms growth in NHS spending has been around 0.9 per cent, compared to a normal level of four per cent.

“There are big challenges in funding and it is unsurprising we are feeling that pressure,” she said.

She said the across the country last year, almost two million people had to wait for longer than four hours to be seen in A&E - the highest proportion since 2003.

She added that referrals to hospitals in Sheffield are up five per cent this year, while there are also problems with patients who are medically fit to be discharged remaining in hospital and taking up beds because of issues with social care services.

She said there needs to be a more sustainable funding model in place for NHS trusts.

Kirsten said: “I see no reason why a high-quality NHS should not be sustainable for the future. But we have a lot to do and a lot of complex deals to strike.”

Mike Simpkin, from Sheffield Save Our NHS, said: “The NHS is stripping off its clothes to bind its wounds.

“Survey after survey says we are willing to pay more tax for the NHS. They need to get politicians to find a progressive way to do this.”