The impact of this year’s significant savings plans on wards, beds, pay bills and staff at some of England’s most financially vulnerable trusts have been revealed in an analysis of 2011-12 business plans.

HSJ has looked at the 19 non-specialist acute trusts intending to make savings of 8 per cent or more in 2011-12 that have produced detailed plans.

Non-FTs constituted more than two thirds of the 19 trusts.

Many board reports cited trusts’ pursuit of foundation status as a driver for their cost improvement programmes.

NHS Confederation acting chief executive Nigel Edwards said: “It was the pursuit of financial targets that seems to have been heavily implicated in the problems at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

“I’m hoping that’s very much in the minds of the people developing these kinds of cost improvements.”

Trusts analysed by HSJ included Imperial College Healthcare Trust in London, which plans to cut beds by up to 10 per cent, payroll by 8 per cent and staff numbers by 150. In 2012-13 the trust predicts it will need £89m of bailout funds – more than the annual income of some trusts.

Some trusts complained in their 2011-12 business plans that commissioners were pushing for “unachievable” cuts.

Princess Alexandra Hospital Trust in Essex, which has a savings plan worth 10 per cent of its annual turnover, intends to close 42 emergency beds and an elective ward. But a report to the trust’s 31 March board meeting complained NHS West Essex wanted to cut the hospital’s income by a further £2m, based on a “stretch” target to cut emergency admissions.

“The [hospital’s] emergency business unit considers the original target sufficiently stretching and therefore any further stretch unachievable in 2011-12,” the report said.

Minutes show the board refused to approve the 10 per cent cost improvement programme.

Meanwhile, Whipps Cross University Hospital Trust in east London is cutting 142 whole-time equivalent staff. It estimates its plan will deliver £16.2m of a £21.3m savings target. However, March board documents say the Outer North East London cluster of primary care trusts was pushing to cut the hospital’s contract by an additional £9.5m.

The commissioners had been “unable to demonstrate robust plans” to “support the proposed activity reductions”, it said, adding: “In the absence of plans the trust believes it would be imprudent to reduce services only to potentially have to respond to [additional demand] by inputting additional resources at a premium cost.”