Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals facing "significant cost reductions"

Healthwatch in North Yorkshire and York urge NHS national bodies to put patient safety before money.
Healthwatch in North Yorkshire and York urge NHS national bodies to put patient safety before money.

A health watchdog has said that the organisations which run Scarborough and Bridlington hospitals needs to make "significant cost reductions".

The Capped Expenditure Programme is a new development from NHS England and NHS Improvement, the bodies that oversee our Clinical Commissioning Groups and Hospitals respectively.

NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), NHS Scarborough & Ryedale CCG, and York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been placed under a Capped Expenditure Programme, one of 14 local areas facing this restrictive financial regime.

Under the rules of the programme, these three local organisations are instructed to work together to identify ways to make significant cost reductions within the next nine months.

Healthwatch works in positive partnerships with local health and social care organisations, both those who provide services, and those who buy them, to help these organisations make sure their plans to deal with these challenges have what matters to people right at their hearts.

A spokesman said: "As local Healthwatch we do not accept the argument that this area is spending the resources of other areas through its failure to stay within allocated funding. We believe there has been a consistent failure to address the serious historic under-funding this area receives which produces undue pressure on services locally.

"Our funding formula takes no account of rurality, and has not been adjusted to deal with the introduction of payment by results. Calculations have shown that on average for every £1 of funding received by commissioners in the NHS this area receives only 89p. Yet a visit to A&E in York attracts the same payment as a visit to A&E in Hull."

Under the "significant cost reductions", Healthwatch believes a number of services could be affected including:

-Up to 30% reduction in planned care, for example reducing spend on orthopaedics (such as knee and hip operations) leading to longer waiting lists

-Ward closures in our hospitals

-Closing minor injuries units

-Restricting patient choice

-Postponing NHS constitution targets (for example, 18 week waits for consultant appointments, four hour waits in A&E)

A Healthwatch spokesman added: "The reduction in planned care could mean one in three patients not getting the operation they need. People may have to live with pain for longer. The knock-on effects of supporting these individuals to cope would be serious for our wider care workforce.

"Already overstretched GPs would be left with limited options to meet the health needs of their patients. It is already challenging to recruit enough staff to meet local health and care needs. These proposals would make it increasingly difficult to recruit new graduates to join an area where treatment options are cut to the bone."

A joint statement between NHS Scarborough & Ryedale CCG, York Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Vale of York CCG reads: "Across the local health system there are significant financial pressures. As a result, it has not been possible to produce financial plans that meet the funding allocations for York and Scarborough.

"This has caused the local health community to be placed into a process known as the Capped Expenditure Process (CEP), a national programme that includes a number of other financially challenged health communities.

"We are working together, with NHS England and NHS Improvement, to draw up short-term financial recovery plans to improve the local financial position. At the same time, we are continuing to plan for the medium and longer term, focusing on designing better, more joined up services that will help people to stay well and reduce reliance on hospital-based care.

"In the best interest of patients and service users, partner organisations from the local health and care system will be holding engagement and involvement events throughout the year so that local people will be able to find out about what might change and to help us to put in place the kind of services that keep people well."

A public drop in is taking place today (June 22) at Ayton Village Hall from noon to 2.30pm for residents to ask questions about the changes.

This will be followed on June 28 for the Scarborough and Ryedale CCG annual general meeting at Scarborough Library from 6pm-8pm.