Hospital finances drive merger

THE dire financial position of the trust which runs health care in the borough has been revealed to the public. It has emerged that the Scarborough Hospital building needs £20 million spending on it, there aren’t enough patients using it to warrant more money being ploughed into it and the annual turnover is still £4 million short when it comes to paying for doctors. There is also an outstanding debt which by the end of the year will be £12.9 million - despite having been reduced from over £20 million five years ago. The stark reality was presented to the public by Mike Proctor, the chief executive of the Scarborough and North East Yorkshire Trust. IT was at a meeting to consult the public on proposals to merge the trust with the York Foundation Trust - a move which has been deemed the best way to secure the future of Scarborough and York hospitals. Mr Proctor said the economic climate meant the finances of the Scarborough Trust weren’t going to improve any time soon. He said: “There are not enough patients to pay for more doctors because the catchment area is not big enough - half our catchment is under water. “It is a real big problem in terms there aren’t enough patients coming to pay for the viable services that we need.” There are up to 80 inspections of various types carried out at the hospital each week and the hospital building needs £20 million spending on it. But with a turnover of £1 million per year and a bill for cover staff reaching £5 million it is difficult to make any money. The financial situation and the reputation of the troubled trust hasn’t helped as patients choose to get treatment elsewhere and recruiting staff has proved difficult. Mr Proctor said: “We have had a vacancy for a neurosurgeon for as long as I can remember. We have advertised and advertised and advertised. I thought let York advertise, they have got a neurosurgeon and that person comes out to work at Scarborough.” The meeting at the Coliseum heard the hospital and the trust at York is facing the same dilemma and combining the assets of both trusts was the best way to sustain them both. Mr Proctor added: “Scarborough has an £8 million subsidy just to do what it does and what it does is not good enough. “If it is financially challenged in the two years that I have just gone through, how do you think it is going to be in the future because things are only going to get worse in financial terms for the NHS. There is no pot of gold.” Members of the public asked why the merger couldn’t have been with the trust that runs the James Cook Hospital in Middlesborough but were told they “weren’t interested”.

Coun Jane Kenyon was concerned that the merger would take Scarborough down the same road as Whitby Hospital and services would be lost from there.

Mr Proctor said that the services provided at Whitby Hospital would be largely commissioned by local GPs but there were none present at the meeting.

Health bosses have already voted in favour of the merger which was expected to take place in April but has been put back to July.