Royal Hospital chief says £30m cut to Derbyshire health budget is ‘slap in the face’

Derbyshire’s healthcare budget has been slashed by £30million as Chesterfield hospital chiefs struggle to meet NHS targets from ‘cloud cuckoo land’.

By Christina Massey, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 5:19 pm

Derby and Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) expects a year on year reduction in funding from 21/22 to 22/23 on the county’s annual budget of around £2.5bn.

The CCG received financial guidance from NHS England on Christmas Eve, along with a list of expected priorities for the coming year, in a move described as a ‘slap in the face’ by Lee Outhwaite, Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Director of Finance and Contracting.

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Bosses at Chesterfield Royal Hospital have released an update on the number of current patients who are being treated with Covid-19.

Speaking in a meeting of the trust’s board of directors, he said: “The headline message is there’s around a £30million cash reduction from 21/22 to 22/23, so that is a net cash out number that doesn’t cover inflation and a range of other things.”

Mr Outhwaite continued: “Embedded in that is quite an heroic assumption about the reduction in Covid costs and we’re currently doing a piece of work to track down whether our Covid allocation equals the costs of covid, because that’s a large part of that cash reduction.”

The list of ten priorities set out by NHS England includes investing in workforce, responding to COVID-19 effectively, improving urgent and emergency care responsiveness, improving mental health and learning disability services, working to prevent ill health and addressing inequalities within the wider community.

Non-executive director Lord Paul Scriven, commented: “The list from NHS England about the priorities for the next two years is cloud cuckoo land list as far as I am concerned in terms of the reality of delivering some of those things.”

Mr Outhwaite said the trust needed to alleviate some of the crisis around staff shortage, as well as ensure beds are used as efficiently as possible by people who really need them.

He added: “I think what we’ve got to do is change the 10 asks to some extent into something that works for us, as a system.”

Chief executive Angie Smithson said that on top of all of this, staff were being told by NHS England to work to different targets week-to-week.

She said: “Overlaid on that is the requirement we’re still getting from NHS E to achieve something different by the week.”

She continued: “My struggle with it all is how does that fit strategically to what we need to focus on as an organisation, while still managing and supporting our teams who are having to submit these returns and get their heads around ‘well you told me to do that yesterday and now you’re telling me to do this by tomorrow’.”

Further financial guidance is expected from NHS England within the coming weeks.

The impact of winter pressures and the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Chesterfield Royal Hospital have been laid bare.

Hospitals across the country are grappling with staff absences and an increase in demand, while ambulance handover delays and bed blocking are adding strain on services.

NHS England data shows 480 people arrived at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust A&E by ambulance in the week to January 9.

Of them, 71 (15%) waited more than 30 minutes before being handed over to A&E staff, with five (1%) waiting more than an hour.

This was up from 12% waiting over half an hour the week before.