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NHS in south Essex faces £300m cuts
1:10am Saturday 1st October 2011 in Features
SOUTHEND and Basildon hospitals are safe despite plans to slash £300million from the NHS budget in south Essex.
NHS bosses gave the assurance ahead of the publication of a four-year savings programme tomorrow.
Health chiefs have already promised both Southend and Basildon hospitals will remain open despite the cost-cutting plans.
Instead, many patients will be seen in community settings like community hospitals or clinics.
This means fewer people will have to attend hospital.
In addition, the hospitals will aim to reduce duplication which means certain procedures may be offered at one hospital and not the other.
Andrew Pike, chief executive of NHS South East and South West Essex primary care trusts, said: “I think we will start to see smaller hospitals in future years as we move more services to the community.
“The aim is to cut out duplication between Southend and Basildon. There seems to be little need to have the same services in different places.
“However, we still see the need for two hospitals in south Essex and our plans have been built on that basis.”
The changes are part of wide-ranging plans to slash health bills over the next four years to cope with Government cuts.
Reducing hospital admissions was a priority, Mr Pike said.
He added: “Hospital costs are among the highest we have.
“However, it seems silly not to use the skills hospital doctors have. That is why they will be moved into the community.”
The primary care trusts need to save £313.5million by 2014 after the Government refused to stump up the cash for the health service’s spiralling costs.
While the trusts have merged in all but name, Mr Pike said the cash would not be channelled between them.
A spokesman for Southend Hospital said the plans had not yet been approved by the hospital’s board.
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