Ruffley meets West Suffolk Hospital Chief Executive for update on financial recovery plan - "I will be asking tough questions"

Friday, 21 April, 2006

David Ruffley is meeting Chris Bown, Chief Executive of West Suffolk Hospitals NHS Trust on Friday, 21 April at 3.00 p.m. to receive an update on the Hospital's current financial position and progress on their Financial Recovery Plan which is due to be launched at the end of May.

This is against a background of intense pressure on the NHS in Suffolk. West Suffolk Hospital has a projected deficit of £11.5 million for this financial year. Unsurprisingly, this is having real consequences for front line patient services. The Suffolk West Primary Care Trust, which manages funding, is currently facing a £13.7 million deficit this year.

David Ruffley said: 'Worryingly, we now have more bureaucrats than beds in the NHS, with fewer than 180,000 beds but more than 211,000 administrators; the cost of salaries for administrators has risen by £1.3 billion over the past four years. The annual accounts for NHS organisations for 2004/5 show a deficit of over £250 million. It is these national problems which have made a significant contribution to our local health crisis in Suffolk. The mounting deficits are now leading to bed closures.

'The Strategic Health Authority (SHA) for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire is supposed to support and advise the local Primary Care Trusts and Hospital Trusts. The SHA has simply not been doing its job. The current deficit for all Suffolk PCTs is £35 million. The SHA, which itself costs millions of pounds to run, should be scrapped and the money redirected to those who need it most- the professionals and patients.

'For 2006-07 the Government is planning to spend a national average of £1,274 per head on healthcare. Suffolk West PCT will only receive £1,051 per head- that means that people in our local area will receive £223 per head less than the national average.

'Rural areas like Suffolk are discriminated against and receive less than the national average for healthcare spending. The Government have changed the funding formula for the NHS four times since 2001 and on each occasion, they have increased the emphasis on social deprivation and decreased the emphasis on age and cost of delivery of the local system. In 2005/06, Suffolk's funding, taking into account total population, was in the bottom 10% of the country- 277th out of 304.

'Having been a patient on a West Suffolk Hospital ward (for a kidney stone complaint) I know from personal experience how dedicated all the caring professionals at the hospital are. But they must be given proper resources. I will be asking Chris Bown some tough questions on behalf of my constituents who deserve an efficient and responsive local NHS.'