”THE most financially-troubled NHS trust in the country has revealed it will need to make savings in excess of £75m to balance the books.

It has emerged most of the savings NHS North Yorkshire and York will implement are expected to come from “transformational changes” - withdrawing key services from hospitals and directing patients to regional specialist centres.

Members of North Yorkshire’s health scrutiny committee said they were stunned to learn today (Friday, November 9) that the level of savings needed to implement had spiralled.

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The health watchdog's chairman Jim Clark and his deputy, John Blackie, last month said they feared the proposed downgrading of services at the Friarage Hospital, Northallerton, would be "the tip of the iceberg" and that they feared GP surgeries would be closed as the trust sought to save up to £60m.

However, Bob Wiggins, the trust’s turnaround director, told members a report by auditors KPMG, which is due to be published later this month, would detail how the county’s £1bn health budget has to be cut by more than 7.5 per cent.

Coun Blackie said the situation, which has been blamed on a relatively low level of funding for the county from the Government, had become “absolutely desperate”.

Coun Clark said he believed the increasing amount of savings needed was being fuelled by a rapidly rising demand due to the large proportion of elderly residents in the county.

He said he was becoming increasingly concerned about how ambulance services would cope if patients were sent to regional centres from remote areas of England’s largest county.

Coun Clark: “This will start a major debate as two senior Government ministers, Richmond MP William Hague and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, are involved.