Concern over Lincolnshire hospitals budget plan

Lincolnshire's hospitals have been told there is concern over how they will maintain frontline services in the face of budget cuts of up to 25%.

The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust is looking for £18m in savings this financial year and between £60m and £80m over the next four years.

Its new chief executive, Andrew North, has met county councillors to discuss ways of dealing with the issue.

The trust has now been asked for a plan which safeguards patient care.

Ring fenced

The chairman of Lincolnshire County Council's health scrutiny committee, Councillor Christine Talbot, said: "We have tremendous concerns they do not seem to have plans in place to make the savings that need to be made.

"And we are concerned to make sure it will not affect the provision of frontline health services in the county."

She added: "The efficiency savings have to be made somewhere and someone had to get to grips with making a good enough plan to make sure that is carried out."

Despite having funding ring fenced, parts of the NHS have said they are having to make large savings because of rising running costs.

Union concern

Hospitals are also anticipating a fall in the number of people sent for treatment due to more people being seen in GP surgeries or at home.

A spokesman for the trust admitted its current savings plan had not been completely successful: "This programme is made up of a wide-ranging number of cost-saving initiatives, from reducing back office costs to shortening the length of stay in hospital for some patients.

"Many of the initiatives are running as planned. Some haven't delivered as well as predicted at the beginning of the financial year and the trust is currently working hard to identify new initiatives to help get the programme back on track."

Unions have said they are concerned there will be sharp cuts before the end of the financial year or the issues will be allowed to carry on unresolved.

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