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Injuries unit and beds under threat in cuts at Malton Hospital
BED numbers at Malton Hospital could be cut and the minor injuries unit hours reduced under plans by NHS bosses to reduce the £19 million health deficit in the region.
NHS North Yorkshire and York hopes to claw back £10 million from the short-term cuts, which were revealed at a meeting of the health trust’s cluster board last week.
Trust chiefs have until the end of March to wipe out the deficit before they hand over spending powers to the new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG), made up of local GPs, however they admitted many of the cuts will be “unpalatable” to the public.
Proposed savings include £3.1 million by no longer routinely inviting outpatients for follow-up tests such as blood pressure checks.
It is hoped £2.8 million can be saved in a review of non-emergency surgery, while short-term closure of some hospital beds is hoped to save £400,000.
Minor injuries units, such as those in Malton, could have opening hours cut or in some cases, be closed altogether.
Dr Michael Lynch, senior partner at Derwent Practice, Malton, said many of their patients have understandably expressed great concern about the implications of this for provision of local healthcare.
“The focus on reducing expenditure begs the question of whether the funding made available to the PCT is set at the correct level.
“In contrast to other areas of the country, North Yorkshire has always been relatively underfunded. Effectively, the annual bail-out has been a mechanism of correcting this imbalance. This is of great concern to us, as we are now being asked to cut services to achieve fiscal balance using a budget which is widely acknowledged to have been set at too low a level.”
Dr Lynch said they understood that no final decisions have been made as to where savings could be made in the local health economy.
“But our patients are aware that the Malton Hospital minor injuries unit and beds on the wards at Malton Hospital are two potential targets for cuts,” he said.
“We are making enquires as to the precise financial outcome of changes in these services as patients will still require treatment, and this treatment will be displaced from the local service to hospitals at York and Scarborough.”
Dr Lynch said they were aware that an external auditor has been hired to produce a report which will outline the level and type of services which are affordable within the currently available budget.
“We think it is fair that the taxpayers funding this piece of work should also be given an illustration of what local services might look like if the PCT were correctly funded,” he said.
“Our concerns are shared by local councillors and by senior management of York Trust.
“Our MP Anne McIntosh is aware of this budgetary discrepancy and has raised the issue with senior members of government. At present the requirement from central government is to insist that cuts and what are described as ‘increased efficiency measures’ must be implemented to balance the current inadequate budget.”