Health: Millions slashed but Sheffield cuts must go deeper

Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.
Sheffield's Northern General Hospital.
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BOSSES at Sheffield’s hospitals are struggling to implement £40 million of tough Government budget cuts and are on track to miss their target by nearly £7 million.

According to a report to the governors of the Sheffield NHS Teaching Hospitals Trust, attempts to hit targets are falling short by 21 per cent, causing ‘significant concern’ among managers.

The trust, which runs the city’s five adult hospitals, is predicted to miss its target for the year by £6.7m.

Managers say they are making progress, but Sir Andrew Cash, chief executive of the teaching hospitals trust, noted his concerns in a report to trust governors.

He said: “In terms of productivity and efficiency, the forecast out-turn now shows under-delivery of 21 per cent.

“There is some significant concern about the ability to turn around productivity and efficiency delivery later in the year.

“This is a matter of concern for the trust as a whole as it would require a significant improvement on performance to reverse the year-to-date deficit which has already occurred.

“The under-delivery in clinical directorate remains of particular concern.”

Trust managers insist the cutbacks are not hitting services, but not all staff agree.

A staff member at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, who asked not to be named, told The Star: “I have worked for the NHS for a long time and the financial squeeze has never been this bad, not even in the Thatcher years.

“The Government rhetoric is that the NHS is safe in their hands - but this is just hype. The NHS is being eviscerated with as little publicity as possible. A cut by any other name still bites as deep.”

Medical director Mike Richmond said his team is trying to find ‘innovative’ ways to save money while improving services.

“We are fortunate to have a good track record on financial performance but, like every other NHS organisation, we are not immune from the impact of the economic recession and we have reduced funding over the next few years.

“We have an annual budget of over £800m and need to make efficiency savings of circa £40m this year.

“We have made good progress but we are aware real efficiency will only be made by delivering services in a different and more innovative way.”

“We already have some excellent examples of this including redesigning how we provide antenatal scan appointments which has resulted in less waiting time for patients and enabled us to see more patients within the same clinic.

“Our therapy teams have introduced a seven-day therapy service which means orthopaedic patients don’t have to spend as long in hospital because their physiotherapy takes place over weekends as well as weekdays.”