Stewart Jackson MP on NHS Peterborough’s Debts

08:08 Thursday 3rd March 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The Trust in charge of hospitals in Peterborough and Stamford have announced they’ve a debt of nearly £4 million. And by the end of March it could be £6 million. All departments within the Trust are now being asked to cut their budgets by 20%. Chris Wilkinson is the Director of Nursing for the Hospital Trust. We spoke to (her) earlier on in the show. (TAPE)
CHRIS WILKINSON: We have had the additional challenge of moving to our lovely new premises, where we have spent a fair bit to make sure that the equipment there for the patients does match the lovely new facilities of the Hospital.
PAUL STAINTON: Spent too much by the looks of it Chris.
PAUL STAINTON: Spent too much by the looks of it.
CHRIS WILKINSON: Well there has been a big expenditure there, associated with that, but it’s only one of the elements really that’s causing this problem currently.
PAUL STAINTON: What are the others?
CHRIS WILKINSON: We’ve had quite a lot of additional activity over the winter months, with patients both with norovirus, that has an impact on the patients that we can get in, that then bring the money for their treatment that we give them. But also you’ll remember during December and January we had a lot of very sick and acutely ill patients with ‘flu-like symptoms as well.
PAUL STAINTON: That’s Chris Wilkinson, Director of Nursing for the Hospital Trust, also on the Board of Directors. And as we all know, the Hospital Trust is the other organisation in the city to reveal a multimillion pound deficit, after the PCT of course were tackling debts of £13 million. So what is it with healthcare professions in Peterborough? Let’s speak to Stewart Jackson MP for the city. Morning Stewart.
STEWART JACKSON: Good morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Can they just not manage budgets, these people?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I think they’re in a difficult situation, because they have different priorities. The PCT obviously is in a situation where it has to handle and run the Primary Care side. And the Hospital is working towards having as many clinical specialities as possible, and they want to work towards being a teaching hospital. And the two of them don’t necessarily match. I think that’s why at the very start of this whole process we need to get the two together, so that they can sort out their commissioning contracts. Because once they have that certainty, then they’ll be able to budget properly, and make the reductions necessary.
PAUL STAINTON: But you know what your budget is, don’t you? You shouldn’t spend more than you’ve got, should you? Because this has got to affect services.
STEWART JACKSON: Well health care in this country is about being free at the point of use, and the point of need. And therefore, you can’t always judge how many people are going to be for instance attending A&E, because they think it’s the right place to be, but they shouldn’t be there, perhaps they should be seeing their GPs. You can’t always make amends for past difficulties. With the issue with the PCT, they’ve got historic debt because they had poor strategic management and poor financial management. You can’t really predict the weather, and the vomiting bug that happened. All these things have happened to the Hospital Trust, which has made planning very very difficult. And on top of that, the fraught negotiations they’ve got with the PCT on who pays for what, and what is an imperative, is adding to the mix, and it’s very very difficult for them. Let’s look on the positive side. It is one of Europe’s and this country’s finest new acute hospitals, very professional staff ..
PAUL STAINTON: (SNORT) But no good if we’re cutting back is it. It’s nice having a brand new hospital, but then we’re cutting back 20% on some of the services perhaps.
STEWART JACKSON: Well as far as I can understand .. let’s establish one thing, that they are not going to cut frontline services. They’re not going to cut beds. They’re not going to cut doctors and nurses.
PAUL STAINTON: But they may have to find £6 million. That’s a lot of cash to cut from penpushers, isn’t it?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I understand that 32% of the workforce at the Hospital, over 2,000 people, are non-clinical staff. And I think inevitably they’re going to have to look at those individuals. And obviously it’s easy to say they’re penpushers. I’m not criticising you, but people do say that.
PAUL STAINTON: What are they doing then Stewart? What do they do?
STEWART JACKSON: Well I’m not here to defend the Hospital Trust, because I don’t know exactly what they’re doing. But that’s the point. They’ve absolutely, as a priority, got to look at those people first, before they look at the frontline. And I think although it will be painful, they’re going to have to look at contracts they’ve got with other people, and the back-office administrative support staff, before they even begin to look at the frontline. But they need to do this now, because the deficit is £4 million. We don’t want it to be £6 million by the end of this financial year. Or some people have talked about £35 million. I think it would be very sad in a new hospital if we had that level of debt, and it cast a shadow over hat is basically a very good hospital, with good clinical outcomes.
PAUL STAINTON: Isn’t there a shadow, though, for most people listening to this this morning? Isn’t there a shadow over health care in general in this city? It looks like a mess, doesn’t it, from the outside?
STEWART JACKSON: Well, both Trusts have had very similar problems over the years. The Hospital Trust has had a problem with A&E, with Orthopedics, with governance. And they are obviously being looked at by Monitor on a regular basis, which is the body that oversees foundation trusts. And I’m quite happy to liaise with Monitor, to ask them to give the Hospital a bit of slack. Because they’re a new hospital. They’ve had the stresses and strains of moving. And they’ve had things like the winter ‘flu bug. The PCT is a bigger challenge I think, because there has been a lack of proper strategic management. There have been facilities opened where we’ve not known about the usage for staffing, the costs. And they’ve got to really bite the bullet, and that’s going to be difficult. I wouldn’t say it’s a mess. It’s a very strong healthcare economy in Peterborough. But it does need to be looked at. Because currently it’s financially unsustainable.
PAUL STAINTON: NHS Peterborough said an increase in migrants had also put pressure on services in the city. Are we being punished in Peterborough for homing migrants? Can we get more cash? How are we getting on with that?
STEWART JACKSON: Well obviously I’m working hard with the City Council to try to get more money for education, particularly primary schools, for pupil premiums. I got a letter back from the Prime Minister. The City Council officials are meeting with the Schools Minister. And that looks pretty positive actually. On the health side, again I can’t act alone. If the Primary Care Trust are saying, look, it’s such a significant issue that it’s affecting mainstream healthcare, then of course the Department of Health should look at it. And I do think it’s important. I’ve been to primary care facilities in the city where literally hundreds of people are from Eastern Europe. And that’s got to have an impact over language skills, clinical priorities, the number of children that Eastern European migrants are having is greater than the indigenous population. That will have an impact on healthcare. And of course maternity services are creaking at the seams in this city, and I think we need to look at that.
PAUL STAINTON: Stewart, thank you for that. Stewart Jackson MP for Peterborough. His view on what’s going wrong at the moment with healthcare in the City of Peterborough.