“A CHALLENGING FINANCIAL POSITION” SAYS MINISTER ABOUT HEALTH CARE IN BURNTWOOD, LICHFIELD, AND TAMWORTH
Health Minister, Dr Stephen Ladyman, has told Michael Fabricant in a parliamentary written answer that Burntwood Lichfield and Tamworth Primary Care Trust faces "a challenging financial position" which, says Michael Fabricant: "is politically correct speech for saying they are up the creek without a paddle and are in big trouble with a shortfall of over £2 million. It remains to be seen how this will affect the already badly delayed start to the new hospital in Lichfield and to local GP services".
In answer to questions tabled by Michael Fabricant regarding the new hospital – whose construction was supposed to have started this summer – and the financial position of the Trust, Dr Ladyman answered:
"Burntwood, Lichfield and Tamworth Primary Care Trust (PCT) is currently managing a challenging financial position, caused by a number of factors, including the costs of extra clinical activity, the new out of hours service and the new general medical QMS contract. In total these pressures amount to just over £2 million.
"In response to this position, the PCT board and Professional Executive Committee are looking at ways in which they can bring the organisation back into financial balance. Every effort will be made to ensure there is no adverse impact on patient services.
"Despite this position, the PCT is continuing to meet all its service targets and drive forward improvements in patient care. Work on the new community hospital in Lichfield will not be affected in any way.
"I am informed by Shropshire and Staffordshire Strategic Health Authority (SHA) that construction work is anticipated to commence in March 2005, following the demolition of the buildings onsite. The SHA expects the hospital to be completed at the end of 2006; ready to open at the start of 2007. The car parking arrangements have been planned as previously agreed, with 217 spaces. The space for future hospital expansion is provided within the site as agreed in the outline planning permission.
"I am further informed by the SHA that the main reason behind the delay is that the demolition process has been delayed as the local authority now requires listed building consent, which the PCT is applying for. It is not proposing to knock down any listed buildings but understands that this is required as the work will be taking place on the site of a listed building." [from Hansard]
Michael now says: "So we find ourselves back in exactly the same position as we did 4 years ago: the future of hospital care in doubt in our area and a cloud over other GP services. Once again, the Government has forced changes on the PCT which the Government have not adequately funded. I hope it will not be necessary, but, if necessary, local clinicians and patients must be prepared to lobby hard to retain existing services.
"It was through tough local action 4 years ago that plans to close the maternity unit, minor injuries unit and the dialysis unit at the Victoria Hospital in Lichfield were resisted. Even so, despite a growing population, we have lost the day operation service which has moved to Tamworth. We must not lose any more health care services and I will continue to monitor the position closely."