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Cuts fear as Midland health services hit by cash crisis.

Byline: Sophie Blakemore Health and Science Reporter

Birmingham PCT mental health centres, about 100 beds were blocked.

But a move to close Small Heath Day Hospital to save more cash has been abandoned following intense criticism by users and their families.

'We are looking at a number of solutions including freezing vacancies, which will affect refilling psychiatrist posts and cutbacks on drugs,' Mr Watson said.

According to the figures Good Hope Hospital in Sutton Coldfield is facing a deficit of pounds 800,000 and the Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust an overspend of pounds 960,000.

Wednesbury & West Bromwich PCT and Walsall PCT face debts of pounds 1.4 million, with Oldbury & Smethwick and Dudley South forecasts of pounds 1.1 million deficits.

North Birmingham PCT faces a predicted pounds 1 million deficit.

Mr Poynton said that NBMHT gave him 'cause for concern' but he hoped that hospital trusts would end the financial year on balance once more.

He has predicted that if hospital trusts achieve balance by next April, actual overspending will be pounds 5 million, out of a total budget of pounds 2 1 /2 billion.

West Midlands health services face major cutbacks as they head for an pounds 11 million overspend.

Rising prescription costs, hospital bed blocking and staffing costs have all been blamed for the looming crisis, which has left GP practices in Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country facing a deficit of more than pounds 7 million. Hospital and mental health trusts in the region have predicted a further pounds 4 million overspend just five months into the financial year.

As a result, services have been told to produce action plans to try and diffuse the situation, including freezing job vacancies and underspendings in some trusts.

The figures were revealed at yesterday's meeting of Birmingham and the Black Country Strategic Health Authority.

David Poynton, the authority's finance director, said his main concern was for the position of the region's primary care trusts.

'We will be looking at action plans to bring trusts back in line but we are not so different from other strategic health authorities in the UK facing similar problems.'

Five primary care trusts have predicted overspending by the end of the financial year almost entirely as a result of prescribing expenditure - up by about 15 per cent on last year.

North Birmingham Mental Health Trust faces the largest deficit, of almost pounds 1.4 million, according to the figures.

The trust's chairman, Bob Watson, said he was concerned about its position, particularly the effects of bed blocking and ward staffing costs.

He said that across NBMHT, South Birmingham Mental Health Trust and South

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Bob Watson: Concerned
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Sep 18, 2002
Words:445
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