Howard's Way - 13 July 2006

Contributed by editor on Jul 13, 2006 - 12:05 AM

HOWARD'S WAY.... a weekly column from Michael Howard MP

July 2006


Last Friday I held one of my regular meetings with David Astley, the Chief Executive of the East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust.

As regular readers will know I have taken a close interest in the affairs of the trust which is so important for our community and have frequently been critical of it. Now, though the Trust is facing severe difficulties which are not its making.

Put bluntly the amount of money which the Trust is receiving from the Government is being sharply reduced. First, in the financial year 2005-6, £4 million which the Trust had been promised, never arrived.

Secondly, as a result of the way in which the new Payment by Results system is being introduced, the Trust will receive £20 million less in 2006-7 than it received in 2005-6 for the same amount of work. The Trust was already planning the save £15 million by reducing its costs. Not it has to find £35 million of savings.

That is why 102 beds have been cut in the last 2 months and a further 58 are to go by the end of September. Staff numbers are also being cut.

This is very worrying news. Clearly the fault lies with the Government and not the Trust. The fact that this can happen after all the extra money from taxpayers which has been put into the NHS in recent years is hardly credible. I shall be asking the Secretary of State for Health to explain – if she can.

Some things can, of course, be laid at the door of the Trust. There are still problems of cleanliness – or the lack of it – at the William Harvey Hospital though, things are better than they were. I shall continue to be vigilant.

On a more pleasant topic, the Hythe Festival reached its conclusion last weekend. I was able to attend a number of the events and pay tribute to the incredibly hard work of Maurice Maisey and his organising committee.

And last, but not least, I was privileged to take the salute, with the mayor of Hythe, after the service on Sunday morning to celebrate the 85th Birthday of Hythe and Saltwood branch of the Royal British legion. The Legion has become a central part of the life of Hythe. Long may it continue to flourish.