West Midlands Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are to face even tougher financial cutbacks in the coming year with new efficiency saving orders of at least £29 million from the Government.
The 17 PCTs across the region have been warned they must save three per cent of their budget in the coming year and set a target of at least a £1 million saving each.
Three of these – Heart of Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Coventry PCTs – have also been deemed able to reach even larger savings of between £5 million and £10 million each.
But this figure does not include cut backs being forced on to hospital executives, who have been told to raise the bar further by cutting back by four per cent each for the 2011-12 financial year.
NHS organisations in the West Midlands had to save £132.7 million in the 2009-10 year, and regional PCTS are on target to reach the £70.4 million under spend for this financial year.
Management costs must also be cut by £98 million over three years up to the 2013-14 year.
Paul Taylor, NHS West Midlands finance director, said: “The health authority is to deduct two per cent from all PCTs as part of a national arrangement and we are asking them to try and secure another one per cent contingency too for their financial management.
“The target is a £1 million under spend for each PCT in 2011-12 but three are also able to come up with a larger surplus of between £5 and £10 million.
“That is going to prove a challenge. The difficulty for acute trusts (hospitals) is the four per cent target, which is larger than in previous years. Trusts have struggled to find savings at two to three per cent so four per cent is going to be a big ask for most of them.”
Concern has also been raised over trusts being able to cope with savings as inflation rises. Managers are to look at levels of prescribing among GPs and analyse how many referrals to hospital consultants are unnecessary.
Ian Cumming, chief executive of NHS West Midlands, said PCTs would stay in cluster groups of Arden, the Black Country, Birmingham, Staffordshire and West Mercia in order to work together to make the savings. Interviews will take place in March to appoint chief executives for each cluster group.
“It’s going to be a challenge how we live within the resources allocated to us,” said Mr Cumming. “We need PCTs to come together to share resources. Some have to cut management costs by up to 45 per cent in some cases.”
“All staff within the health authority and PCTs are working at a time of uncertainty about their own future but they are working 100 per cent and I have to express my gratitude for that.”
PCTs struggling to reach this year’s savings plan include Warwickshire, which is being given a £4 million bridging loan from the health authority, Birmingham East and North, which is to get up to £5 million support from NHS West Midlands, and Solihull Care Trust, also getting a bridging loan of £3.5 million.
George Eliot Hospital, in Nuneaton, is being helped out with up to £2.5 million support.