The news that Leeds Hospital bosses plan to cut over £65m from the trust’s cloth over the course of this year will likely cause significant concern in the city.
Uppermost in people’s minds will be that the excellent standards of care that so many of us have experienced at Leeds General, St James’ and other centres is not compromised in any way shape or form.
Then there will be understandable worries on the part of the staff – the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust being one of the city’s biggest employers – about the future of their jobs.
The YEP has been assured that the trust will not be seeking to axe workers from its payroll. Time will tell if that tentatively promised moratorium on headcount reduction is honoured, but those at the very top of the organisation will not be surprised to learn that since this newspaper revealed hospital bosses in this city shelled out almost a quarter of a million pounds laying on taxis for people to get to and from hospital, questions about what is seen in some quarters to be institutional profligacy have quite rightly been asked.
And of course, that very same revelation works both ways: the people of Leeds must take some responsibility to help the hospital trust’s leaders run a sustainable ‘business.’ Of course there will always be some people who are too old, frail or vulnerable to be able to make their own way to and from hospital but there will be countless others who could have arranged a lift from a friend or family member, caught a bus or paid for their own taxi.
Also, committing, for example, to never missing an appointment can make a huge difference to available funds. The hospitals’ top executives cannot be expected to carry all of the burdenof responsibility that comes with running an efficient hospital.
It is absolutely critical that the people of Leeds are part of the decision-making conversations. Those in charge are duty-bound to communicate every single penny of their intended £65m purse tightening with complete transparency, and with a genuinely open ear to people’s views.
Some of the most talented, committed and compassionate people this city can boast work in our NHS institutions. This newspaper, and the people of Leeds, owe it to them to ensure we collectively scrutinise what happens next and work together to protect these treasured services.