Job losses not ruled out as hospital trust looks to save £30m

Queen Alexandra Hospital.
Queen Alexandra Hospital.
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BOSSES at Queen Alexandra Hospital say they will need to make about £30m worth of savings in the next financial year.

Robert Toole, the finance director at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, says it will be the second year in a row the trust will have to make such huge savings and more job losses cannot be ruled out.

It comes as the trust faces ending this financial year with a £6m deficit after failing to make the £37m savings planned.

Mr Toole said: ‘We are looking at having to make savings next year similar to this year. We think it’s going to be in the region of £30m.

‘This will definitely be a challenge, there’s no doubt about that.

‘We will have to look at similar things we did this year – better procurement deals, managing staff better, and try to maintain as much work at the hospital as possible as the PCTs will be looking to move services out into the community.’

Mr Toole said that as the workforce is the bulk of the trust’s costs, more job losses were also a possibility – although he said much of this would be through natural turnover when employees leave and are not always replaced.

Some job losses could also be as a result of services being moved out of the hospital into the community.

But Mr Toole added: ‘If services move out into the community, we hope to transfer the staff into the community too.’

The trust in Portsmouth is not the only one facing challenging savings plans.

All NHS trusts have been forced to make savings this year and will continue to do so next year, as part of an overall reduced NHS budget.

The government has told the NHS it needs to make efficiency savings of £20bn by 2014.

But Portsmouth’s hospital trust has been singled out as being in more financial difficulty than most.

It is one of seven trusts in the country to have been described as ‘financially challenged’ by the Department of Health.

There are also concerns that this may impact on it becoming a foundation trust – which all trusts are required to do in the next few years.

It means the trust would be free of government control, but it must show financial stability to get the status.

The senior management team has also come under criticism over the financial crisis.

But Ursula Ward, the chief executive of the hospital trust, has defended her team and say they are up to the job.

She said: ‘We are up for the challenge.

‘We will make efficiency savings through improving our own internal efficiencies delivering care in different ways but it’s not about cutting services for patients. Patient care is the absolute focus.’

She added: ‘I have put a lot of effort into this organisation in the last few years and I want to see it succeed.’