Views will be listened to

The North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has cut spending by £16m in the past year through efficiency savings, reduced energy costs and more effective purchasing policies.

The Trust has to save a total of £40m over a three year period to reduce annual spending from £260m to £220m a year.

A total of £16.5m was saved in the first year and now £16m has been saved in the second year.

Every money-saving possibility is being explored including management staff cuts, reducing the number of hospital beds, cutting energy costs, building the new hospital at Wynyard, generating additional income and eventually closing the hospitals in Hartlepool and Stockton.

The whole National Health Service is experiencing severe difficulties.

Almost half of all the hospitals are providing care which is either poor or less than satisfactory, according to David Prior, the head of the Government’s Care Quality Commission.

He said that “it is necessary for many hospital beds to be taken out of service and for money to be invested in the provision of more care in the community,” eg. in the home and in clinics like One Life.

He added that “the NHS has to start closing acute beds or the system will fall over.”

Mr Prior also pointed out that too many people, especially the elderly, are arriving at the A&E wards when they should have been treated much earlier, in the community.

He said that emergency admissions at A&E are out of control in large parts of the country and that “the situation is unsustainable.”

The NHS Information Centre said that every year more than one million hospital patients and care home residents, eight per cent of the total, suffer avoidable harm while being cared for, including bed sores, falls, urinary tract infections linked with catheter use and blood clots.

Mr Prior confirmed that his Care Quality Commission would be involved in discussions about hospital closures, decisions to reshape services and the moving of more and more care into the community.

Especially “frail, elderly people who should not be in hospital.”

The situation in the NHS is very serious indeed and many people up and down the country will want to contribute to the discussions which will take place.

Their views will be listened to but the final decisions will be taken at national level.

Jim Allan,