Review of NHS costs launched

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NHS services could be reshuffled to balance the books amid fears over the rising cost of a multi-million pound new hospitals scheme, the Express has learned.

Private consultants are drawing up plans to “reconfigure” services at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust.

The moves comes after Mid Yorkshire – which is slashing £60m from its budget over the next two years – was set tough financial targets by the Department of Health (DH) as part of its bid to become a foundation trust (FT).

Patients are yet to be consulted and the plans were being kept private this week.

A meeting of Wakefield Council’s social care and health overview and scrutiny committee was told on Wednesday that private firm Finnamore was conducting the review.

Michele Ezro, associate director of strategy at the trust, said: “We have brought in Finnamore to look at service configuration for the future. It has pulled together a series of options.”

Committee chairwoman Elizabeth Rhodes said: “Did I hear the word ‘patients’ in there?”

Mrs Ezro said: “This is really early days. Absolutely we are going to bring in patients.”

The DH is also reviewing affordability of the new hospitals scheme in Wakefield and Pontefract which is being paid for on a 35-year lease, part of an inquiry into 22 Private Finance Initiatives (PFI).

Figures obtained by the Express show the trust’s running costs, including PFI repayments, will increase by £6m a year.

Some £3m extra will have to be spent on goods and services, including drugs, because of inflation.

An estimated £5m in penalties will also be levied by the DH for patients being readmitted after treatment, although this figure was expected to be reduced.

A DH spokesman said: “An issue facing some NHS trusts in their move towards attaining FT status is the affordability of their PFI schemes. We are undertaking an independent assessment of some PFI schemes as part of our work in this area.”

Mid Yorkshire was also in discussions about financial support from Yorkshire and Humber Strategic Health Authority, which said the amount of support was still being finalised in on-going discussions with Mid Yorkshire.

Vince Doherty, Mid Yorkshire’s interim finance director, said: “It is requirement of all aspiring foundation trusts to have long-term financial and service plans in place.

“This means we are working with our commissioners and PCTs to develop our clinical services strategy for an integrated care organisation delivering safe, high quality, sustainable health care through hospital, intermediate and community services.”