HOSPITAL trusts in the region are having to save more than £100m this year, new figures have revealed.
Information obtained by the Health Service Journal has shown that in the North East and Cumbria NHS hospital trusts are being asked to save a staggering £104.6m through their cost improvement plans.
The average saving accounts for 5.05% of annual NHS turnover in the region, though not all trusts responded to the information requests.
South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust is making one of the highest percentage savings for the financial year of 2012-13, with a saving of 5%, which equates to £10.5m. This is closely followed by County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation with a percentage saving of 4.9% (£21.9m) and Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust at 4.6% (£8.5m).
Leading health unions have criticised the coalition Government for financial cuts “being forced” upon hospital trusts.
Estephanie Dunn, Royal College of Nursing Northern region’s operational manager, said: “These level of cuts to NHS budgets are unprecedented in recent times, and are being forced on our trusts by central Government.
“But while all hospital trusts across the country are being forced to make savings, it’s clear that the burden of cuts is not falling equitably.
“It’s simply not credible to claim that trusts can make this level of savings without there being a knock-on effect on waiting lists, staffing levels, and ultimately quality of care.”
The data shows that in England the total cost savings for this year alone is £2.25bn. Some trusts nationwide are having to deliver cost improvement plans of around 3.3% of their turnover for this year, others are having to make up to 9.1%.
In the region, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has the lowest percentage saving of 4% (£35m) of its year’s turnover and City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust also has a target of delivering a 4% saving (£11.8m).
Health bosses have admitted that the cost savings they face are challenging, but insist it will not be detrimental to patient care.
Mike Robson, South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust’s executive director of finance, said: “The 5% target we face this year is a difficult one.
“We are already well under way with a programme looking at new, efficient ways of working, aimed at making sure that we can continue to provide safe, high-quality services for our patients, whilst delivering the financial efficiencies needed.”
Tom Hunt, acting director of finance for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, said the trust was “in a strong financial position and ended the last financial year with an operating surplus”.
He added: “Our priorities are patient safety and quality care, we have plans to work more efficiently and more innovatively, while continuing to drive up standards.”
The Department of Health was last night unavailable for comment.