Health Cuts Continue

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Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton, Somerset, yesterday became the latest to announce cuts in the face of mounting NHS deficits.

Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust said a number of beds and at least one ward will have to close at the hospital as part of an effort to make savings of £6.5m.

Trust bosses have told senior nursing staff they hope to avoid redundancies, and will seek to make cuts by reducing the average time patients spend at the hospital, discharging patients early and then reducing the number of beds.

A trust spokesman did warn yesterday that ‘taking beds out of the hospital could result in wards being closed’.

Meanwhile, in Edmonton, north London, North Middlesex University Hospital NHS Trust is planning to close an operating theatre, axe 50 jobs and cut back on ‘expensive drugs’ and medical tests in a bid to save £15m.

This comes after the financial ‘hit squad’, City accountants Ernst and Young identified ‘savings’ in the face of an £8.4m deficit.

As part of efforts to make savings in all areas, management are also increasing prices in the hospital restaurant and restrictions are to be placed on free car parking for visitors.

Trust chief executive Clare Panniker said securing its financial position was vital, as the Strategic Health Authority won’t authorise the trust’s ambitious PFI £74million rebuild ‘until we have balanced our financial position’.

On Wednesday, Harrogate foundation hospital in Yorkshire announced it will have to cut beds and surgery in the face of a deficit of between £4.2m and £9.2m.

Harrogate Hospital Finance Director, Jonathan Coulter, said the trust’s financial position had been hard hit by local primary care trust (PCT) plans to cut the amount of work allocated to the hospital by £7m.