Western Trust to cut services in coming year

Thu, 30/10/2014 - 17:55 -- Editor

Today the Western Health and Social Care Trust announced its savings plans for the remainder of the 2014/15 financial year following the Minister’s statement on the health and social care budget. Please click here for statement.   These savings will be implemented between November 2014 and March 2015.

All Trusts in Northern Ireland have been asked to develop savings plans to address the financial deficit facing health and social care in Northern Ireland. The Department of Health Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the service commissioner, the Health and Social Care Board have now approved a savings plan for the Western Trust totalling £7m. 

In the development of its plan the Trust took account of professional advice to ensure the continued safety of patients and clients.  However with such a sizeable reduction in expenditure, the quality of services will be affected. All such impacts and associated risks will be carefully monitored and managed and action taken to protect patients and clients. 

These savings are based on the principle of supporting priority patient and client care and the maintenance of essential services, and are being delivered through strict controls on staff recruitment, travel, training and education, and bringing budgets back into line with funded levels. 

What areas will be affected?

In developing our savings plan, the Trust considered three key areas:

  • Services;
  • Workforce Controls and
  • Non-pay Expenditure.

These include:

  1. There will be a number of restrictions in relation to community services across the Trust including domiciliary care packages, wheelchair allocation, short breaks and independent sector residential/nursing home provision. Any restrictions will be carefully managed to protect those in greatest need.
  1. The Trust will accelerate already agreed changes at the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh in relation to the merger of the Cardiac Assessment Unit and the Urgent Care and Treatment Centre between 2000hrs and 0800hrs.  The changes are in line with the new service model planned for the Local Enhanced Hospital due to open in 2016.
  1. The Trust will also temporarily merge the Palliative Care and Rehabilitation wards at the Tyrone County Hospital.
  1. Mental Health Services for older people will be redesigned in line with the NI Dementia Strategy.  This includes a focus on community provision and maintaining service users in their own homes.  This will result in a reduction of beds across the Trust’s geography.
  1. The unfunded Scanning Bureau service in the South West Acute Hospital will cease.
  1. Daycare services provision at Spruce, Omagh and Westbridge House, Enniskillen will cease and service users relocated to an alternative service locally.
  1. Gortmore Day Care Services, Omagh will be relocated and this will allow the closure of the Gortmore site.
  1. Some independent sector contracts which are not core activity for the Trust will stop.

The majority of the savings will come from implementing a number of workforce controls across the Trust including:

  • Reviewing staff on temporary contracts
  • Stricter criteria for the use of agency, bank and locum staff
  • Delay in filling some vacancies

Non pay controls including the reduction of spend on goods and services; tighter controls on non-clinical travel and restrictions on training will be in place for the rest of the year.

For all Trusts, the level of funding for waiting list initiatives to achieve waiting times for elective (planned) care and treatment has also been reduced from previous years. This means that waiting times for assessment and treatment in the Western Trust will increase. However, the Trust will ensure that patients are treated on the basis of clinical priority.