Brentwood’s health trust to “save” �184m in four years

Brentwood’s health trust has announced plans to save the equivalent of almost a quarter of its annual budget over the next four years.

NHS South West Essex says it will save �184m over the period – but denies the moves are cuts.

The document says that the trust can save money by treating more people outside hospital - it says this will enable it to reduce bed capacity by 140, and cut an unspecified number of jobs.

The trust – which came out of the red at the beginning of this financial year - has already cut 25 beds at Brentwood Community Hospital, and several others in the borough at care homes for those with mental health issues – but more could be on the way.

The report also states that Brentwood has been used as a pilot scheme for the rest of the area in “successfully shift(ing) a number of patients… out of the acute sector.”

NHS South West Essex covers Basildon, Thurrock, Billericay and Wickford as well as Brentwood.

Nick Bradley, regional officer of Unison, said: “These cuts are devastating and amount to a quarter of the trust’s annual budget.

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“This is not about cutting backroom staff, all the hospitals have already done that. We can expect queues to grow at A&E, increased waiting times and delays in people getting treatment.”

But the report says: “This is not about cuts… However the growing demands on modern health services from an ageing population, new technologies and rising costs, means the NHS has to do more with its money.

“If we carried on spending our money in the same way and on the same things as we have in previous years, NHS South West Essex would need an extra �55m in its budget just for 2011/12.”

It adds that the plan should be seen against the background of �20bn needed to be saved across the whole of the NHS.

Health bosses say that patients will still be able to go to hospital if they need to, but they will be working on sending some people elsewhere.

Other measures included in the report include discouraging the use of Caesarean sections and making “rapid” changes at the Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals Trust.

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