Brentwood services face axe in drastic budget cuts

HEALTHCARE services are to be cut back across the region in a series of drastic measures affecting patients and staff to rein in a massive �52 million overspend.

Up to 100 jobs are to be axed by NHS South West Essex before Christmas, waiting times will rise for some services and IVF treatment and other ‘non-essential services’ will be given the chop.

The emergency measures have been thrashed out by interim chief executive Andrew Pike but opposition leader, Cllr David Kendall, demanded to know who was responsible for the financial mess.

Mr Pike claims the cuts are unavoidable and action must be taken now, stressing that “doing nothing is not an option”.

Cllr Kendall said: “I was at the meeting where they discussed this and I said ‘why are we in this position’ and I got a very long winded answer.

“Someone does need to be held to account. People deserve a greater explanation than they have had.”

“We need to know who is responsible, what steps are being taken, and those that are responsible should be considering their future.”

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Former chief executive Pam Court left in July to take up a role leading a transformation programme for healthcare services across Essex involving reducing NHS management costs.

Mr Pike was drafted in in August and has taken on the huge task of controlling the spiralling costs and says ‘in all aspects the local NHS has been living beyond its resources.’

He added: “We now have no choice other than to tackle this head on.”

In a blueprint set out by NHS South West Essex, which manages services in Basildon, Brentwood and Grays, it claims it will make the ‘right decisions’ about targeting money and cut back on services where ‘we did not get value for money in the past.’

Waiting lists for non-life threatening, MRI scans and X-rays are set to expand as appointment times become longer in a bid to save �1.7 million. There will also be longer gaps between cataract operations.

Staffing levels will be cut back to 2008 levels and 17 beds are to go at Brentwood Community Hospital.

Operations such as tonsil removal will be axed completely according to the plan which has outlined savings of �52 million; �43 million of which will bring the service back on an even keel, with an �8 million back up.