Concerns for patient care as St George's Hospital aims to save £91m in two years

St George's Hospital in Tooting

St George's Hospital in Tooting

First published in News Wandsworth Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

St George’s Hospital is set to make a staggering £91m of savings in just two years.

A cost improvement programme by the Tooting-based St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust revealed targeted savings for this financial year (2014/15) of £45.2m and a further £45.8m next year.

The savings next year will include £10.2m from women and children’s services, £11.1m from medicine and cardiovascular and £10m from surgery, neuroscience and theatres.

A spokeswoman for the trust said the savings would not contribute to any job losses. She said the hospital expected further savings in the future but that this was the same for all of the NHS and they had made financial improvements of this scale in 2013/14.

The trust has a total income of £715m.

Following the revelation that health bosses must find £91m of savings in just two years, Sadiq Khan, MP for Tooting, asked St George’s for reassurances that it would not impact patient care.

He said: "Local residents will be very worried by the levels of cuts St George’s is required to make next year. Year on year our hospital has had to make big cuts and this is not sustainable. I have asked St George’s for reassurances that the cuts will not have an impact on patient care, but it is difficult to see how such a huge budget cut will not have adverse consequences.

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"While the staff at St George’s Hospital do a fantastic job providing first class care for our community, the Government is placing too much strain on the NHS. We have had a massive top-down reorganisation on top of cuts to resources. This makes it increasingly difficult for doctors and nurses to do their jobs properly."

A spokeswoman for St George’s said the financial challenge faced by St George's is no different than that faced by all NHS providers and there remained a gap between the costs of rising demand and the funding they received. Consequently, efficiencies and cost savings are required to cope with this.

She said: "Achieving the financial challenge will be done in multiple ways. Many are specific to individual services, others are trust wide. There are cost savings we can make for example through better procurement of goods and services. We can also improve our finances by increasing the income we earn through providing more NHS services or from non NHS services such as rental from retailers on our site.

"We very carefully evaluate the impact on quality - which is patient safety, experience and outcomes - of every plan put forward. We reject any that will have an adverse impact for patients.

"There may come a point in the future that if NHS funding falls far enough behind the demands on it, that difficult choices may need to be made. We expect that such choices will be need to be made at national rather than local level."

Comments (7)

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4:29pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Georgia Lewis says...

So. let me see if I understand this - clearly St George's Hospital is in financial trouble and needs to make serious cutbacks to the tune of £91m but on top of this, the latest strategy document from SW London Collaborative Commissioning points to preserving all services at St George's while making cuts or downgrades to services at other hospitals in SW London, such as Epsom, St Helier and Croydon, but all reports up until now have mentioned further investment at St George's over the next few years in order to ensure it can cope with the additional patients that will inevitably result from cuts to other A&E, children's and maternity departments at other hospitals?

Yes, that is all as clear as mud!

We really need a straight answer from SW London Collaborative Commissioning on this one.
So. let me see if I understand this - clearly St George's Hospital is in financial trouble and needs to make serious cutbacks to the tune of £91m but on top of this, the latest strategy document from SW London Collaborative Commissioning points to preserving all services at St George's while making cuts or downgrades to services at other hospitals in SW London, such as Epsom, St Helier and Croydon, but all reports up until now have mentioned further investment at St George's over the next few years in order to ensure it can cope with the additional patients that will inevitably result from cuts to other A&E, children's and maternity departments at other hospitals? Yes, that is all as clear as mud! We really need a straight answer from SW London Collaborative Commissioning on this one. Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 6

6:47pm Mon 18 Aug 14

buggsie says...

Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved.
Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved. buggsie
  • Score: -2

6:57pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Lephiz says...

This is disgusting. My nan died in St. George's Hospital because no one would listen to the countless complaints and advice we gave. Instead of trying to "save money" and make cuts, they should pull their finger out and work harder. It sickens me that they're more focused on saving money, rather than saving lives.
This is disgusting. My nan died in St. George's Hospital because no one would listen to the countless complaints and advice we gave. Instead of trying to "save money" and make cuts, they should pull their finger out and work harder. It sickens me that they're more focused on saving money, rather than saving lives. Lephiz
  • Score: 1

10:13pm Mon 18 Aug 14

Georgia Lewis says...

buggsie wrote:
Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved.
What do you mean, Buggsie? If you are referring to "health tourists", they only cost 0.06% of the NHS budget. Thus, even if every person from another country who was not entitled to NHS care paid at point of use, it would not come close to properly funding the NHS.

Or do you mean people on benefits? Leaving aside the obvious compassion deficit in that argument, that line of thinking forgets that even if you are on benefits, the government will still find ways to get its hands in your pocket with taxes such as sales tax.

It is easy to demonise people from other countries or people on benefits but the real reason for the NHS funding crisis is the ridiculously expensive PFI deals which have sent construction costs through the roof, farming out services to the private sector and corporate tax avoidance - with two of the biggest culprits being Atos and G4S, both of whom have millions of pounds worth of NHS contracts despite terrible track records.
[quote][p][bold]buggsie[/bold] wrote: Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved.[/p][/quote]What do you mean, Buggsie? If you are referring to "health tourists", they only cost 0.06% of the NHS budget. Thus, even if every person from another country who was not entitled to NHS care paid at point of use, it would not come close to properly funding the NHS. Or do you mean people on benefits? Leaving aside the obvious compassion deficit in that argument, that line of thinking forgets that even if you are on benefits, the government will still find ways to get its hands in your pocket with taxes such as sales tax. It is easy to demonise people from other countries or people on benefits but the real reason for the NHS funding crisis is the ridiculously expensive PFI deals which have sent construction costs through the roof, farming out services to the private sector and corporate tax avoidance - with two of the biggest culprits being Atos and G4S, both of whom have millions of pounds worth of NHS contracts despite terrible track records. Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 4

11:45am Wed 20 Aug 14

Pippa Maslin says...

buggsie wrote:
Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved.
£91m to be saved in two years?! Is this some sort of cruel joke?! The population is growing and a hospital is expected to save money?!

And how depressing that the spokeswoman talks of "difficult choices". I am sick and tired of hearing politicians - the Tories in particular - talk of "difficult decisions", so the last thing I want to hear is someone who isn't a politician, adopting the same pernicious lingo. When it comes to the NHS, all that these silly phrases mean is that funding is/services are to be cut and that the general public have to like it or lump it, despite the fact that it is the general public who own the NHS because they pay for it.

What also deeply worries me is the phrase: 'We can also improve our finances by increasing the income we earn through providing more NHS services or from non NHS services such as rental from retailers on our site.' These 'retailers'... Are we talking private providers of healthcare?
[quote][p][bold]buggsie[/bold] wrote: Stop healing patients who have contributed nothing to the system - problem solved.[/p][/quote]£91m to be saved in two years?! Is this some sort of cruel joke?! The population is growing and a hospital is expected to save money?! And how depressing that the spokeswoman talks of "difficult choices". I am sick and tired of hearing politicians - the Tories in particular - talk of "difficult decisions", so the last thing I want to hear is someone who isn't a politician, adopting the same pernicious lingo. When it comes to the NHS, all that these silly phrases mean is that funding is/services are to be cut and that the general public have to like it or lump it, despite the fact that it is the general public who own the NHS because they pay for it. What also deeply worries me is the phrase: 'We can also improve our finances by increasing the income we earn through providing more NHS services or from non NHS services such as rental from retailers on our site.' These 'retailers'... Are we talking private providers of healthcare? Pippa Maslin
  • Score: 2

11:47am Wed 20 Aug 14

Pippa Maslin says...

Whoops. Didn't mean to quote buggsie in my comment.
Whoops. Didn't mean to quote buggsie in my comment. Pippa Maslin
  • Score: 0

1:48pm Wed 20 Aug 14

Georgia Lewis says...

None of this squares up with SW London Collaborative Commissioning's strategy document or the BSBV recommendations before that, all of which talk of upgrading St Georges at the expense of other hospitals. This is despite millions already spent on upgrading A&E and maternity at St Helier Hospital, and these departments are now under threat.

It would indeed be interesting to get a straight answer from the trust about income from retail on the St George's site. Do they mean businesses like Costa Coffee, florists, gift shops and the like or are they considering private healthcare providers getting floorspace? We definitely need a lot more clarification from the trust.
None of this squares up with SW London Collaborative Commissioning's strategy document or the BSBV recommendations before that, all of which talk of upgrading St Georges at the expense of other hospitals. This is despite millions already spent on upgrading A&E and maternity at St Helier Hospital, and these departments are now under threat. It would indeed be interesting to get a straight answer from the trust about income from retail on the St George's site. Do they mean businesses like Costa Coffee, florists, gift shops and the like or are they considering private healthcare providers getting floorspace? We definitely need a lot more clarification from the trust. Georgia Lewis
  • Score: 4

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