HOSPITAL bosses in Worcestershire are battling to plug a £2 million black hole just two months into the financial year.
To make matters worse a two month delay is also expected on a £21 million Government loan to shore up the finances so Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust can pay its bills on time.
NHS chiefs have reported a deficit of £1.9 million just two months into this financial year (2012/13), worse than the deficit of £1.5 million recorded at this time last year.
The cash crisis engulfing the NHS was the main topic at a board meeting at the Southcrest Manor Hotel in Pool Bank, Redditch.
The trust has to save £15 million this financial year and £50 million over the next three years because costs of new drugs and demand for services from a growing elderly population is rising faster than the amount of cash available.
Closing A&E departments at either the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch or Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester are on the table to claw back cash.
Chris Tidman, director of resources and the trust’s deputy chief executive, said: “We were expecting a deficit but we were hoping it would not be as large as it has been. Cash continues to be a major concern.”
Bosses also aimed to borrow £21 million in July from the Department of Health so they could pay off their regular bills, helping them manage an £18 million ‘legacy debt’ which built up a decade ago.
The loan would be paid back over seven years at £3 million per year.
The trust now has to put in place its own mitigation plan.
Mr Tidman said the trust was not likely to agree this working capital loan until late September at the earliest, a delay of more than two months.
John Burbeck, a non-executive director, said: “There’s high expenditure with few savings. It’s worrying me.”
Mr Tidman said so far the trust had avoided ‘salami-slicing’ the budget.
He added: “I think the grip on finances is getting more vice-like from this week and we should see some real benefits coming into July.”