Saving money. Apparently the Strategic Health Authority (bless their little cotton socks) have now told the Trust that cost reductions based on efficiency savings (CRES) must be increased from the 1.5% currently included in the programmes to 3%. The minutes note that,
"Members identified that increasing the CRES beyond that which had been agreed to date, would impact significantly on service provision and service user experience, as well as increase risk, and therefore the matter required more discussion."
They also state that, "this issue would be discussed in greater detail, with proper consideration of possible scenarios, at the development sessions. " I don't seem to be able to find any record of similar decisions from development sessions; I hope these are recorded and accountable. As the Board suggest, the potential impact on service provision is major.
"Lower priority" work in the Capital Programme may have to be delayed, the Finance officer stated. Geoff Keats made an appeal for services to service users to be prioritised. I wonder which is of higher priority - the new cafe at Luton HQ or improving the dreadful conditions at Weller Wing?
A Non-Excutive Director made the suggestion that departments should bid for funds, with the most convincing bid winning the prize; the Finance Director pointed out that for this to happen other departments would have to lose money.
The Trust's Finance Director himself is leaving BLPT for "an extended period" to take up a "long term secondment to the Strategic Health Authority". Senior staff seem to be departing this ship in droves at the moment - this will be the second Executive Director to disappear within six months; major roles remain unfilled (the Trust were unable to appoint to the position of "Director of Professional Leadership and Practice Standards") or filled on a temporary basis, and there is comment on redundancies with the restructuring in Middle management, with posts not being filled in order to provide opportunities for those staff who would otherwise have to be made redundant. I may be misunderstanding here, but could there be opportunity for cost savings by not filling some of these management positions?
Instead, savings seem largely to come from reducing services to those people who most need them. Luton is to "delete" 7 posts in WAMH (saving an estimated £120,000) and Bedford is to delete "a range" of vacant posts, with a predicted saving of £217,000. At what cost to the service user, I have to wonder?