Jobs and services at risk in Grantham Hospital after cash crisis

Grantham Hospital services may be threatened by trust cash crisis.

Grantham Hospital services may be threatened by trust cash crisis.

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VITAL health services may once again be under threat because the trust which runs Grantham Hospital has massively overspent its budget.

United Lincolnshire Hospitals expects to be £14 million overspent by the end of March.

The trust - which has a budget of £384 million this year - ended the 2009/10 financial year with a surplus of £1 million.

A spokesman for the trust told the Journal things started to go wrong in June because of increasing medical staff costs and extra emergency activity.

The spokesman said: “We are closely examining every part of our expenditure to identify areas where savings can be made without compromising quality or patient safety.

“No area of expenditure can avoid being a focus of attention.”

The trust was unable to give any assurances that vital services like A&E and maternity, which people in Grantham have campaigned to keep in the past, will remain in the town.

The spokesman said: “It is clear from the level of savings that have to be delivered both locally and nationally in the NHS that this cannot be achieved without significant changes to the way that we work.

“One of the key challenges for the trust will be to achieve the level of savings needed whilst at the same time maintaining, as far as we can, local access to local services.”

The trust, which is the only one of its kind to go from a predicted surplus to a deficit financially, also has to make efficiency savings of 4.5 per cent per year for the next three years - around £18 million a year - because of Government cuts. It means savings of up to £32 million will have to be found next year.

Bosses are currently looking for savings in management and administration, increased efficiency and workforce costs.

A large proportion of the trust’s expenditure - around 67 per cent last financial year - goes on paying staff. Staffing levels are likely to be reduced.

The spokesman added: “We are ensuring that initial actions minimise the impact on permanent staff as far as possible.

“This includes careful controls on the use of agency staff, reviewing staff vacancies and where we do need to reduce the number of staff employed we will offer the opportunity for staff to leave voluntarily in the first instance.”