Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Health Trusts' Warning over Pressures to Hit Hospitals

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Health Trusts' Warning over Pressures to Hit Hospitals

Article excerpt

Byline: Craig Thompson Chief Reporter

HOSPITAL chiefs in the North East are warning that the NHS is set to face "greater pressures than ever before" this coming winter.

It comes as latest figures reveal NHS trusts in England have racked up a deficit approaching PS1bn in the first three months of the financial year - the worst financial position in a generation, regulators have said.

Sir Leonard Fenwick, chief executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, is the longest-serving hospitals boss in the health service.

He said that the pressures now facing the NHS were likely to mean this winter would be extremely difficult. He predicted non-emergency operations would need to be delayed to help hospitals cope.

He said: "We will be as flexible as we can. However, waiting times may rise."

Sir Leonard has already warned that tight immigration rules preventing foreign nurses coming to work for his own trust could lead to problems this winter season. The government has rejected 85 applications, made by the Newcastle Trust between June and September, to bring nurses from the Philippines to work on Tyneside wards.

Sir Leonard said the trust would be missing out on the "specialist and skilled staff" currently unavailable in the UK or EU. The new Monitor figures, for April to June this year, showed NHS foundation trusts in England had a deficit of PS445m.

Other NHS trusts ended the first quarter of the year PS485m in deficit.

The foundation trust sector is "under massive pressure" and can no longer afford to go on as it is, the financial regulator Monitor said.

Ian Renwick, chief executive at QE Gateshead, pictured said that, like many other NHS organisations, Gateshead is facing an increasingly challenging financial landscape.

He added: "The local healthcare system is coming under increasing strain and, at the QE, we continue to see unprecedented levels of demand for our services. Despite this, we continue to provide the highest levels of care for our patients and have been consistently recognised as one of the best performing hospitals in the country. …

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