Additional Cash Injection for Health Spending

11/10/2017

The South Eastern HSC Trust welcomes the additional money for health and social care which, we believe, means we will be able to remove the major impact or controversial proposals in our savings plan.

The draft plan will be put to our extraordinary Trust Board meeting for approval this Friday 13 October, along with the feedback from our consultation process. It will be recommended that the Trust accept the no or low impact measures but remove those which would have had a more significant impact, namely those considered as major impact or controversial.

This injection of cash for health and social care will ease the pressures on our staff as we move into winter, and will prevent any planned reduction in elective capacity.

However, while we welcome this development, we have to remember that the major financial challenge in health and social care has not gone away. Our savings are mostly non-recurrent, so we will be faced with finding significant savings in future years, whilst trying to deal with increased pressures and demands.

This underlines the importance of transforming our health and social care services, as proposed in Delivering Together, and by Professor Bengoa. It is vital that we use the months ahead to discuss publicly how best we use the funding available and develop a model of healthcare for the future that is sustainable and affordable.

Northern Ireland is not alone in facing these challenges. Health and social care systems across the developed world are currently struggling with the question of how to adapt their services to deal with continuously rising and changing patterns of demand. Most countries also recognise that simply adding more money and resources to tackling these issues is not enough to make services higher quality and sustainable, radical transformation is required.

The major impact, or controversial, proposals consisted of a £1m reduction in locum doctor spend across the Trust, to temporarily reduce locum costs, and a £1.05m reduction in agency staff with the aim of reducing agency costs by 25%. The agency reduction excluded qualified nursing posts.

The proposals considered to have less of an impact, which Trust Board will consider, relate to non-pay, contract management and delaying of service development savings and include:

• Slowing or deferring the use of any monies for service development or new initiatives, including new inpatient ward block at Ulster Hospital (which has now opened but transfer of services has been phased to ensure best management and this may be slowed to save some monies towards the savings plan requirement)
• Replacing a range of agency and locum staff or overtime with in-house staff
• Savings in administrative and management areas, for eg.staff travel and non-pay
• Introduction of car parking charges at Ards Hospital site
• Natural delays in recruitment
• Non-implementation of an uplift on community care contracts

The extraordinary Trust Board takes place on Friday 13 October in the Great Hall, Downshire Hospital, Downpatrick at 12 noon. The Trust would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the consultation process and those who attended our public meetings.