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Health chiefs must keep up cash fight
HOSPITAL bosses say they are still facing a battle to turn round a perilous financial position.
Despite recent improvements in performance, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust is now running at £3 million behind its predicted financial position.
After being hit with “unprecedented” income reductions of about £25 million, the trust was already targeting a year-end deficit of £5 million, rather than breaking even.
But its financial position had deteriorated to the point where a massive £12 million year-end deficit was being predicted if things were left unchecked.
While the latest balance sheets show some signs of improvement, it is not enough to return the trust to its target £5 million deficit – with an £8 million year-end deficit the likely outcome if current trends continue. The most recent figures show a deficit of £700,000 in September, a half-million pound improvement on the previous month but still £300,000 short of the result needed to get back on budget.
Director of resources, Chris Tidman, laid the blame for the struggle on continued high levels of emergency demand which have put pressure on capacity and meant the trust has lost more than £1.5 million to date from having to cancel elective operations. Income has also been hit by a 10 per cent drop in birth rates, while staffing costs have been about £500,000 a month up on the previous year, although this is now expected to reduce following a recruitment drive.
Mr Tidman attributed the recent improvement to an increased focus on efficiency and despite labelling the finances a “significant cause for concern” is optimistic the improvement can continue.
“It is encouraging that things are starting to head in the right direction,” he said.