Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS Facing PS960m Cash Crisis in the North East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

NHS Facing PS960m Cash Crisis in the North East

Article excerpt

Byline: Katie Dickinson Reporter

HEALTH services in the North East are facing a financial "black hole" of PS960m over the next five years.

An investigation commissioned by campaign group 38 Degrees has uncovered the scale of the NHS funding crisis in the Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Trust.

Every area of the country has been ordered to identify unsustainable departments in a bid to tackle the cash crisis engulfing the NHS.

The 44 plans, called Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs), are being drawn up for each area of England as local NHS leaders are being asked to find savings that will help to plug financial deficits.

And the public plan for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear reveals that by 2021, the health and social care system is projected to be PS960m short of the funds it needs to balance its books while maintaining the same level of care for patients if it "does nothing".

The plan discusses a "reconfiguration of services between acute providers" - but doesn't describe what this would mean for patients, leading to fears that some services will be lost.

38 Degrees said the analysis, carried out by health policy experts Incisive Health, "reveals far-reaching plans to close services, which appear to have had little input from patients and the public".

And a petition has been launched calling for North East MPs to ensure that the area's STP plan protects all frontline services.

One member of 38 Degrees in Bedlington said: "Both my wife and I rely on the NHS. If it wasn't for their quick service, my wife would be dead now. Add beds, and ambulances - don't take them away."

The Northumberland, Tyne and Wear STP footprint covers 1.5 million residents across Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside, South Tyneside, Northumberland and Sunderland.

Director at 38 Degrees, Laura Townshend, said the findings show the NHS is "dangerously under-funded". …

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