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Leeds hospitals' budget slashed

Hospital chiefs in Leeds will see their current £57m spending budget cut by £18m leaving only £39m for investment in much-needed new equipment and buildings.

But, with further cuts predicted by the end of 2012, they will have an annual capital allowance of just £24m – a fraction of what is needed to carry out all necessary projects.

The £24m budget cap – the lowest for years – is likely to remain in force until 2014.
The Trust which runs city hospitals already has a backlog of building works amounting to £200m and already plans for a new £1.4m unit for kidney patients have been dropped.

Neil Chapman, finance director at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, has drawn up a five-year plan which improves IT, reduces the number of poor quality buildings and ensures medical equipment is efficient and effective.

But he warned there were risks because the plan did not take into account issues like a backlog in the replacement of equipment or any emergency spending.

"Should an essential piece of medical equipment fail or an area of infrastructure become unsafe unexpectedly, substitution will take place so that the problem will be remedied at the expense of a lesser priority," he said.

Included in the plan is £4m on IT, £2.5m on high risk work like asbestos removal and lift breakdowns, £1.5m on rationalising older buildings and £1.2m on theatre equipment.