Health Crisis: £22m in the red

THE NHS Trust that manages hospitals in Comet country had the third largest financial deficit across England for 2005/06 – a whopping £22,379,000 in the red – according to figures released by a national newspaper. The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trus

THE NHS Trust that manages hospitals in Comet country had the third largest financial deficit across England for 2005/06 - a whopping £22,379,000 in the red - according to figures released by a national newspaper.

The East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust's annual accounts were the third worst out of 28 trusts, with only West Hertfordshire Hospitals and North West London Hospitals NHS Trust incurring bigger debts, at £26,785,000 and £24,064,000 respectively - according to the Daily Telegraph.

Our Trust is currently trying to redress the financial balance by making up to 435 job cuts and by concentrating acute and emergency services at either Lister or the QEII.

Concerned Comet reader Brian Foreman said: "Local measures taken to seek to reduce this huge sum appear to be at the expense of patient care, security and inconvenience to staff as well as patients.


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"Surely an urgent investigation into the financial situation should take place and decisive action taken?

"The closure of accident and emergency departments, with a rapidly increasing population, would seriously affect healthcare throughout Hertford-shire."

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A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust said: "The Trust is in the second year of its financial recovery plan, which will see it return to financial balance - a legal duty for all NHS organisations.

"Our recovery plan, which has involved difficult decisions, is based on making changes that minimise any impact on patient care.

"While more needs to be done, we are making very real progress to deliver our financial commitments and at the same time maintaining the national standards on patient care that we are also expected to reach.

"We reject, therefore, the notion that all of the effort put in by the Trust to live within its means has caused patients to lose out."

For the first seven months of the 2006/07 financial year, the Trust has reported a year-to-date deficit of £6.766m, which is £2.273m worse than planned for at this point in time.

The Trust's financial target, agreed with the East of England Strategic Health Authority, is to have a year-end deficit of no more than £7.5m, but the Trust is currently forecasting it will actually be £10.5m.

For a Trust desperately trying to save money, patient Malcolm Stewart thought it excessive when he was sent 10 letters to tell him his scheduled appointment at Lister had been postponed.

He said: "It's taken 10 letters to tell me one fact. What a waste of money.

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