The chief executive of Kingston Hospital says she is becoming increasingly worried about cuts hitting patient care.
Kate Grimes told BBC World at One yesterday, the hospital was looking for 6.3 per cent savings this year – about £10m.
But she insisted she would rather take the hospital into financial deficit than hit ‘non-negotiable’ patient care.
She said: “Each year I get more worried and I do think there’ll come a point when we’re not going to be able to find savings without impacting negatively on quality.”
Further demands for savings in the next few years, based around fewer admissions to hospital, could leave the hospital with a theoretical 10 per cent savings to find.
But obstacles to fewer admissions include Kingston Hospital having double the rate of dementia than the national average due to the borough having the highest life expectancy in the country, she said.
Ms Grimes said: “It’s very hard to see how we might find that. I’m not feeling cheerful about it.
“We’ll either get to a point where people notice the savings or you’ll find lots of hospitals going into financial deficit and I think you’re more likely to find more hospitals going into financial deficit because in most places quality is non-negotiable.
“We will continue to deliver our financial obligations until we’ve reached the point at which we don’t believe we can deliver the kind of quality we’d be happy to provide and at that point we will be moving into financial deficit.”
Asked about the hospital’s plans to ‘radically’ reduce the number of nurses and midwifes by 23 percent and consultants by 15 per cent reported in the Surrey Comet in 2011, she said: “We have lost over 100 staff every year for the past three years otherwise we wouldn’t have made the savings.
"But for some of those, for example, its been where we’ve reduced length of stay and reduced a ward and then you can lose nursing staff, administrative staff, other staff associated with the running of that ward.”
But she added: “We would never have plans to make savings by reducing the number of nurses available to care for our patients on the ward. We’d have to do it by doing things differently.”
Ideas drawn up so far include merging the pathology department with other neighbouring hospitals, more group antenatal sessions and greater use of computer records as examples.
To hear the BBC report click here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01nhv2ya