Health bosses save £70m less than planned

Patricia Hewitt. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Patricia Hewitt. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018 - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Those in charge of overhauling the region's health service have saved £70m less than they should have done, it has been admitted.

At a Health and Wellbeing Board meeting at County Hall today former health secretary Patricia Hewitt, who heads up the region's sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), said finances were one of the 'big challenges' for those trying to redesign the system.

But she also said that two years since the transformation was announced, the true state of health finances in Norfolk and Waveney had still not been examined.

Mrs Hewitt said: 'The challenges we face are really big bits of work we have to do. First of all, finances. That's the big challenge for all of us.'

But she initially was not sure whether she could reveal how far behind savings truly were.

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She said: 'The NHS across Norfolk and Waveney - am I allowed to say this in public? Yes I guess - we are against our budget plans by about £70m, the deficit is bigger than that because the plan was for a smaller deficit.'

Documents put before Norfolk County Council's Policy and Resources committee last month said the problem was mainly with healthcare providers, but that issues with commissioners were also coming to light.

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Mrs Hewitt said she was confident better use could be made of the area's £2.6bn total health and social care budget, but work still needed to be done.

She said the STP was yet to do a report on the resources, demand, and finances in the health service, and 'where realistically we can get better value for money'.

When the STP was announced in 2016 it was estimated there would be a £440m budget deficit by 2020 if nothing changed.

Some £300m needed to be saved by 2021 but bosses also promised £150m of proposed investment.

While elsewhere in the county services had closed to save cash, leaders here have been insistent enough money can be saved through a focus on prevention and care in the community.

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