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October 29, 2002

Hearing aid cutbacks approved

From: BBC, UK
Oct. 29, 2002

Patients are to be asked whether they really need hearing aids or wheelchairs are part of drive to trim health costs in Cumbria.

Financial problems at two hospitals in the county have led to cuts of more than £2m in services.

The West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven, and the Cumberland Infirmary, in Carlisle, face debts of more then £4m by the end of they year if spending continues at its current rate.

North Cumbria Acute Hospitals Trust agreed to the cuts on Tuesday.

As a result, health workers are being asked to take more care before giving equipment such as wheelchairs and hearing aids to patients.

Doctors will also be asked to help save money by seriously considering whether a patient needs hospital treatment before referring them.

They will also be asked to prescribe generic drugs rather than expensive branded alternatives.

Patient benefit

Chairwoman of the North Cumbria Acute Hospitals NHS Trust Barbara Canon told BBC Radio Cumbria doctors needed to be aware of the problems.

She said: "The entire health economy is facing financial difficulties

"It is our joint responsibility to make sure the money we have is used for the benefit of all of our patients.

"I expect most people would think that would be good financial housekeeping."