A Yorkshire primary care trust has suspended contracts with local GPs for simple procedures and returned them to acute settings, as part of immediate measures to address “serious financial pressures”.
NHS North Yorkshire and York has also halted IVF procedures for the final quarter of the financial year and plans to shave £150,000 off the amount paid to the voluntary sector over the three months to April.
Additionally it is “working with” GPs to increase generic prescribing and plans to make around 60 members of staff redundant to reduce management costs.
The PCT said in a statement that its board had been told in September it was “now predicting a slower than expected” delivery of its quality and productivity plans, and unless additional actions were taken it would fail to meet its statutory obligation to break even.
As of 30 September, NHS North Yorkshire and York is reporting an in-year overspend of £17.9m – equivalent to 1.4 per cent of its annual £1.3bn budget. Without action, it forecasts ending 2010-11 with an overspend of £29.4m and a cash flow shortfall of £33.8m.
The PCT identified procedures such as vasectomies and colonoscopies, which are currently carried out in primary care settings by some GPs, as those being returned to local hospital trusts. However, the PCT did not reveal how much it hoped to save from such a move.
On GP prescribing, it hopes to reduce costs by around £1.1m, which will bring the prescribing budget back in balance, while reducing third sector payments by £150,000 will help it bring its overspent annual voluntary sector budget back in line.
A number of corporate measures being taken include ensuring a minimum on agency spending, reducing corporate buildings costs, and reducing management costs through a programme of redundancy with up to 60 posts affected.
Regarding IVF, the PCT said current waiting lists would be honoured and new patients added in exceptional circumstances.
Chief executive Jayne Brown said: “Nobody should be in any doubt as to the seriousness of the challenges we are facing. We need to take action immediately.
“Over the last few months we have been rigorously monitoring our quality and productivity plans to target areas of non delivery. Alongside, this patient activity has increased and a number of our contracts are significantly overspending.
She added: “We fully appreciate that the decisions we have taken will be unpalatable and I can assure you that every member of the board also finds them unpalatable.”
Ms Brown also said the PCT would be talking with GPs on how to make the local health economy more sustainable in future.
She said: “History shows us that we face a recurrent financial issue every year in North Yorkshire. Together with our partners, especially local GP commissioning groups, we need to look strategically at how and where we deliver services in the future. Over the coming months we will be looking to develop a plan that sets out how we can ensure a sustainable future.”
Earlier this month NHS Warwickshire announced it was halting funding for around 30 routine procedures, including cataract removal and hip replacements, in order to remain financially viable over the winter. It said it had seen a “very substantial rise” in these procedures over the last six months.
NHS Warrington suspended new IVF treatment cycles in September.