Sunday, March 16, 2008


A LONG history of money worries within the local NHS will be eradicated permanently as a result of the ongoing shake-up, say health bosses.

Already the PCT has managed to persuade the Government to wipe out its historic debts on the back of the Closer to Home proposals. Now it is working to tackle its finances for the long term, ensuring that the books balance year-on-year.

To do this bosses have come up with a £31.3m cost improvement plan over the next three years, which will be achieved by moving more services into the community and out of the expensive and unnecessary acute settings.

But they anticipate major initial investment will be needed in order to reap long-term benefits.

As a result, £10m has been set aside to develop community services over the first three years of the plan, with a further £9.2m available between 2009 and 2012. An additional sum of £8m a year, over five years, will help the acute trust cover costs of the shake-up.

This subsidy will decrease year-on-year until the services become self-financing. John Critchley, the PCT’s director of resources, said this will ultimately deliver financial stability to Cumbria. “Nine months ago we were in a position where the economy was effectively broke. There was an £18m recurring deficit, massive cost improvements to find, together with a huge historic debt. I am now 150 per cent confident this plan will give us a much better ability to manage risk, instead of no plan at all and financial free-fall,” he said.

He added that the work within the PCT has to be combined with better management of social service funding to be a complete success, but said he is fairly confident that this is starting to happen.