The future of accident and emergency, maternity, paediatrics and general surgery are to continue at Kettering General Hospital in the long term.
Health bosses have this week confirmed that the hospital’s major functions, also including acute medicine, care of the elderly and diagnostics will remain at the Rothwell Road site – despite new pressure to save £275m over the next five years.
Questions about the future of Kettering Hospital were first raised when the now-defunct Healthier Together scheme was first mooted two years ago.
That programme – which proposed the loss of 515 beds at Kettering – was scrapped in 2013, but this is the first time that hospital chief executive David Sissling, along with partners from local authorities and other organisations, has been able to declare publicly that the intention is to retain all services locally.
A new scheme, Healthier Northamptonshire, has now been drawn up between Nene and Corby Clinical Commissioning Groups, Kettering and Northampton General Hospitals, Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trusts and Northamptonshire County Council, which provides health and social care in the community.
It does not propose any kind of merger between the organisations, but will examine how they can work together to deliver better services across the whole county.
Mr Sissling said: “This programme is saying that these services are staying.
“There’s an agreement that we need to have these fixed points to give certainty.
“There will be change, but these important functions will remain at Kettering.
“The chief executives of all the organisations are involved and they are all in agreement that we will take responsibility for making sure these things happen.”
There are still significant pressures on local health bodies to save money, despite a growing and ageing population. If KGH and the local authorities continued to offer health services in the same way for the next five years, they would run £275m over budget. So they are now looking at ways to save this money between now and 2020.
Mr Sissling added: “If we failed to change the way we deliver care or make any efficiencies then, across the NHS and the local authority, we would be £275m short of where we should be. There are changes that are going to be specific to each organisation.
“For example we are looking to continue our work to reduce the length of stay, reduce the number of admissions and work to eliminate all waste.
“We also want to reduce our locum and agency costs by collaborating more with the other health bodies and will try to provide more care in people’s homes and in their communities.
“We have also held meetings with Northampton General Hospital to look at how we can collaborate in the areas of rheumatology, trauma and orthopaedics, ophthalmology and radiology – although these services will continue to be offered locally.”
Bosses will also look at merging back-office functions with other organisations, including human resources, IT, estates, finance, payroll and pharmacy.
Mr Sissling added that he hopes that the hospital will be able to grow to sustain its locally-increasing population.
He said: “The A&E department was designed for 31,000 people per year.
“In the past year we’ve had about 72,000.”