Cuts plan to avert £87m hospital debt

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Wigan’s health care services will be £87m in debt by 2020 if no further cuts are made.

The borough’s health chiefs, together with Wigan Council, will soon begin implementing an overhaul of services to try and minimise losses, working on borough objectives and schemes Greater Manchester-wide, including bed reductions for those with learning disabilities.

We have strong plans in place and have received £14.8m in extra funding from Greater Manchester to help us implement the plans. As always, we will engage with patients and residents to make sure that the changes make services better for them

Dr Tim Dalton

Savings must be made in the Wigan borough across five health and social care organisations, but the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and the council will need to do the most belt-tightening.

Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “By working together with our health and social care partners, we are confident we can meet the financial challenges of the coming years. Thanks to the devolution of control from London to Greater Manchester and so to Wigan borough, we have the flexibility and tools we need to transform services and make sure they are capable of meeting the needs of our residents.

“We have strong plans in place and have received £14.8m in extra funding from Greater Manchester to help us implement the plans. As always, we will engage with patients and residents to make sure that the changes make services better for them.”

Learning disabilities and autism services have already been earmarked for cuts across Greater Manchester, in a £3m funded project which looks to reduce 60 per cent of non-secure beds and 40 per cent of secure commissioned beds in an aim to deliver more “community-based services”.

But a National Audit Office report voices concerns that the programme is already struggling to achieve value for money nationwide and NHS England admits it will take time for cash to move from hospitals to community support.

Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust is bound to feel the impact of the cuts, with focus already on rising A&E pressures and 15 months of failing to meet four-hour targets.

WWL deputy chief executive Rob Forster said: “WWL, along with the rest of the NHS are facing considerable financial challenges going forward. The trust has a proud record to date of meeting this challenge whilst still delivering on our objective of providing the best quality healthcare that is safe, effective and caring to the population that we serve.

“WWL is a key stakeholder and partner within the Wigan borough locality and will continue to work with health and social care colleagues to ensure that we maximise the efficiency of the system in which we work.

“Internally the trust will continue to eliminate waste, maximise the use of technology and ensure that our resources are optimised so that the trust can remain financially stable and operationally successful in both the short, medium and long term.”

The Greater Manchester five-year plan also includes proposals to “re-use surplus land and property for housing and employment opportunities.” But despite the looming deficit, the CCG insists its focus will remain on delivering “integrated community” services and more outpatient buildings in the community, plus improved borough GP services. Public consultations will be held before any major changes or service closures.