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Worcestershire braced for £40 million health cuts
5:20pm Monday 18th March 2013 in News
HOSPITAL beds will be closed, more patients treated at home and jobs cut as part of plans to save £40 million.
Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, which runs Bromsgrove’s Princess of Wales Community Hospital, is having to find savings of about £8 million a year until 2017/18.
About 10 per cent of the county's 200 community hospital beds will close initially, with the potential for more to follow if the new model is deemed a success.
About 300 of 4,500 jobs with the trust are also being cut, although bosses stress they do not envisage having to make significant redundancies, while many staff will be required to re-train.
Spending cuts will be made in mental health, community care and children's services, while community hospitals will become treatment hubs, offering fewer beds but a greater range of services under one roof.
Services will also be integrated across the health and social care system - with the aim of reducing duplication and meaning patients will need to make fewer visits.
Bosses at the trust added that although the financial element is clearly a huge driver of change, the main motivation is quality and continuing to improve the experience of patients and service users.
It said it would be re-configuring even if the need for savings was not there and that the new model is backed by its various patient groups, known as locality forums.
Chief executive of Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust Sarah Dugan said: "Although there is a financial challenge, the motivation is really about finding new and innovative ways of treating people in or as close to home as possible.
"This is what people tell us they want. Whether they are a young person with a mental illness or are elderly, the overwhelming feedback is that people want to avoid going into hospital unless it is absolutely necessary."
Jan Ditheridge, director of service delivery, said closing beds did not mean hospitals such as the Princess of Wales, would be any less important in the future.
"We are not going to close community hospitals," she said.
"They are very precious to us and will be increasingly important in the future. Where we do remove beds, we will be using the space to provide other things."
She added the beds being closed initially were already surplus to requirements.
The changes will not affect Worcestershire's three acute hospitals - Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster and the Alexandra in Redditch - which are managed by a separate trust and currently the subject of a separate review aimed at slashing £50 million from their budgets.