26 October 2007
By Lauren Chadwick Dewsbury Reporter
A PETITION to wipe out Dewsbury and District Hospital management's £80m debt is to be launched.
Conservative candidate for Dewsbury, Kevin Hollinrake, is to launch the petition to scrub Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust's debt tomorrow in Dewsbury's Market Place.
Last week the trust was given a 'fair' rating for services provision – but was rated 'weak' for financial management by healthcare watchdog the Healthcare Commission.
As well as Dewsbury's hospital the trust also manages Pontefract General Infirmary and Pinderfields in Wakefield.
They have repeatedly said Dewsbury's hospital is not under threat, despite the massive debt which Mr Hollinrake said he had been told of in a meeting with chief executive Julia Squire.
He said: "At the current rate, it will take more than 100 years to repay this debt. What purpose can it serve to afflict a strong management team with a huge, historic debt that is impossible to discharge?"
Mr Hollinrake said he had requested to put the petition to stamp out the debt on the 10 Downing Street petitions website - but it was rejected because the PM and government did not have the power to wipe the debt.
He said: "If Gordon Brown has no powers to deal with this problem, then who has? The government cannot simply wash its hands of the dire financial situation of our local health services.
"I would like our current MP Shahid Malik to join my campaign and to confirm that his promise of a £30m debt-relief payment, made during the 2005 election campaign, has materialised."
But Mr Malik said Mr Hollinrake's claims the debt was affecting patient care made him guilty of scaremongering.
He said: "Having spoken to the hospital authorities I know they are very distressed at the completely misleading spin about hospital care.
"His politically motivated and reckless tactics will also impact negatively on the dedicated hospital staff who are delivering an excellent service to local people.
"The hospital has made it clear that they are confident of their ability to manage their finances and, crucially, that there is absolutely no threat to levels of service, personnel or duty of care."
Last year the trust announced it would be shedding 1,100 jobs over the next five years in a bid to balance the books.
Tony Waite, Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust finance director, said: "It is long understood that the trust has significant historical financial issues. As a consequence, we are one of 17 in a national programme of 'financially challenged trusts' established by the Department of Health to address their financial issues.
"We set a target to achieve financial balance by March 2008 and we remain focussed and committed to achieving this.
"When our chief executive Julia Squire recently had an introductory meeting with Mr Hollinrake, she briefed him on the trust's financial issues and explained that it is widely recognised that these issues cannot be resolved locally in the near future.
“She also explained that we are working with NHS Yorkshire and the Humber and the Department of Health to determine the most appropriate solution to secure the financial sustainability of the trust and that we are happy to await the outcome from the Department.”
Last Updated: 25 October 2007 2:46 PM
Source: Dewsbury Reporter