HOSPITAL bed numbers could be cut and minor injuries units closed under plans by NHS bosses to slash a £19 million health deficit.

NHS North Yorkshire and York hopes to claw back £10 million from the short-term cuts, which were revealed at a meeting of the trust’s cluster board yesterday at the Priory Street Centre in York. The body admitted many of the cuts will be “unpalatable” to the public.

Trust chiefs have until the end of March to wipe out the deficit before they hand over spending powers to the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), made up of local GPs.

Proposed savings include £3.1 million from no longer routinely inviting outpatients for follow-up tests, such as blood pressure checks.

It is hoped £2.8 million can be saved in a review of non-emergency surgery.

Dr David Geddes, the trust’s medical director said a temporary stop would be put to services such as “toenails, lumps, bumps and injections into joints”.

Meanwhile, short-term closure of some hospital beds is hoped to save £400,000.

Dr Geddes also proposed buying cheaper drugs which do the same job as more expensive rivals, such as substituting the cancer drug Herceptin for the cheaper Avastin.

Minor Injuries Units, such as those in Malton and Selby , could have opening hours slashed or in some cases be closed altogether.

Chris Long, chief executive of NHS North Yorkshire and York, admitted that without the cuts, the CCGs could start life inheriting up to a third of the existing deficit.

He said: “We need some immediate, short-term measures.”

He said the deficit had been worsened by higher than expected demand for hospital services.

Scarborough GP Douglas Moederle-Lumb told the meeting that if funding to GP practices was cut it could see some struggle to survive.

He said: “This paper could be the longest suicide note this organisation has ever written.”

Professor Alan Maynard, of the University of York , who also has a seat on the shadow Vale of York CCG, said: “CCGs are only just beginning to get staff and we are being set a task which the PCT (primary care trust) has failed to achieve.

“The PCT is reporting a deficit of £19million – how can we do anything different from them?”


List of proposed changes and the expected savings

  1. A review of non-emergency surgery – £2.8 million
  2. End to routine invitations for outpatient follow-up tests – £3.1 million
  3. A review of Minor Injury Unit opening hours, with a view to some closures – £0.4 million
  4. A review of community hospital beds with a view to some closures – £0.4 million
  5. Using cheaper drugs which deliver the same results – £0.6 million
  6. An end to GPs providing extra services such as treating minor injuries – £0.6 million
  7. A review of mental health and continuing care placements – £1.5 million
  8. Stopping the increase in health visitor numbers – £0.2 million
  9. Redesigning patient transport – £0.4 million