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Health trust deeper in debt
THE trust that runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital is sliding further into financial trouble.
After another month of under-performance Worcestershire Acute Hospitals trust is now more than £2.5 million behind its predicted financial position.
And while bosses remain confident they can turn things around, they have admitted the current position is a “significant cause for concern”. The trust is facing an ongoing battle to balance its books after being hit by “unprecedented” income reductions of about £25 million this year.
As a result, it was already targeting a year-end deficit of £5 million, rather than breaking even.
But it is currently on course to miss even that adjusted target by some distance. After five months of the financial year the trust’s performance is £2.6 million worse than expected and if current performance continues it will be staring at a year-end deficit of a massive £12 million. Director of resources Chris Tidman attributed the current slide to a number of factors. Income has been hit by a 10 per cent fall in the number of births while capacity pressures means the trust is more than £1 million down on cash from elective operations.
Staffing costs are also at some of their highest levels in recent years – with a total wage bill of £18.2 million in August, about £500,000 more than the same month in 2012.
Mr Tidman said extra permanent staff have been recruited to reduce expenditure on costly agency workers – who accounted for more than £1 million of the wage bill in August.
He said a period of transition was “inevitable” but that from next month he would expect spending on agency nurses to stop almost entirely.
“Going out for agency and bank staff is now a luxury we just cannot afford given the staffing levels that we have committed to,” he said.
Monitoring staffing spend as well as other costs is part of a strict financial recovery plan now put in place by the trust as it looks to claw back the deficit.
But Mr Tidman warned that the finances are a significant cause for concern.
While he believes the recovery plan is capable of putting the trust back on track, he warned: “It is still subject to significant risk as we head into winter.”
Chairman Harry Turner, who previously hit out at suggestions the trust is a “basket case financially”, said: “Clearly this is an issue that is not beyond repair. We are only halfway through the year. As a board we have proved what we can do. We have to fix it and we are determined to fix it.”