FRIMLEY Health NHS Foundation Trust has given its reassurance that major services do not face the axe, after BBC analysis of NHS local hospital plans revealed the Frimley Health area, which includes Farnham, will have a funding shortfall of £236 million by 2020/21 if cost-cutting proposals do not work.
The Frimley Health and Care System Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), pulling together councils, the NHS and community partners, is based on the principle of ‘spending to save’, with £69m to be invested over the next four years in front-line NHS and care services to improve waiting times, treatment and home care for local people.
It includes an extra £7m every year to ensure people can get a GP appointment from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, as well as plans to work with people to tackle preventable ill health, including help for 18,000 people to prevent diabetes, reduce alcohol-related deaths by two per cent, and reduce surgical infections by 150 a year by encouraging people to give up smoking for three weeks before their operation.
At weekends, it is proposed that specialist and family doctors, community nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists and pharmacists will offer treatment at the 14 new ‘health hubs’.
However, in its analysis of cost-cutting plans across 44 different STP areas, the BBC observed Frimley’s plan has “a lot of focus on investment and not a lot of detail on how overall savings will be achieved”.
Responding, Frimley Health’s head of communications James Taylor said the £236m funding gap identified by the BBC is only forecast if the trust “do nothing” and “carry on the way we are”, adding that the STP aims to address problems “that have been building up for many years in the NHS” by providing “better, more appropriate care for people…in a way that’s financially sustainable”.
He said: “Each of the 44 STP areas across the UK have been tasked with coming up with their own ‘five-year forward view’ on how they are going to bridge the gap in funding.
“In other areas they are proposing closing down A&Es and other major services. But in this area, our proposals are evolutionary rather than massive re-configurations, and there are no proposals to close down hospitals or any major services.
“It’s acknowledged that the full detail is not worked through, but there are several areas that by working together over the next five years we believe we can find efficiencies, and we’ll be giving people the opportunity to get more involved as the details come out.
“At the end of the five years we’ll have a very different model from what we’ve got now, but in this area we won’t be seeing major services shutting.”
• BBC analysis of the neighbouring Surrey Heartlands area, which includes the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, revealed a funding shortfall of £102 million by 2020/21 if cost-cutting proposals go awry.
The five-year plan published last October aims to reduce demand by making greater use of ambulance services and specialist frailty units and forging better links with care homes; ‘prevention work’ will save an estimated £15.2m a year, and a further £10.1m a year could be saved in back-office efficiencies and £8m in property and facilities, although like Frimley few details are provided on what will be changed.