HOSPITAL bosses are confident they can plug a £2 million black hole by the end of the financial year. NHS chiefs at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have reported a deficit of £1.9 million so far in 2012/13.
But at a meeting of the board they vowed to break even. Director of resources Chris Tidman said: “While that does seem like a large number, that’s less than one per cent of our budget.
It is eminently manageable.” Mr Tidman said norovirus at Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester and the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch in November and December had left the trust £1 million out of pocket because of cancelled operations.
Emergency demand has also been 10 per cent above last year’s figure and, at the peak of the norovirus outbreak in November, 166 beds were closed, heaping still more pressure on the system.
The trust is supposed to make savings of £15 million for 2012/13 but is running behind schedule. However, Mr Tidman is confident the trust can deliver £12 million savings by the end of the financial year in two months’ time.
The trust’s financial position depends to an extent on the negotiations which are under way with the primary care trusts and the strategic health authority, which fund NHS services.
Mr Tidman said: “I remain confident we will secure a managed solution to make sure the trust isn’t adversely affected because of the challenges this year.” At the moment the trust is getting paid the full tariff (100 per cent) for emergency patients treated in hospital beds.
In the past the hospital trust has been at loggerheads with commissioners because paymasters (NHS Worcestershire) withheld 70 per cent of the tariff for each patient treated above an agreed threshold. The idea was to invest the money in admission avoidance schemes to stop people going to hospital in the first place.
The Foundation Trust Network continues to campaign and lobby to change the rules on the 30 per cent emergency tariff. Chief executive Chris Hopson has met Earl Howe, under secretary of state at the Department of Health; David Flory, deputy NHS chief executive; and Paul Bate, the health adviser to the Prime Minister. He has argued that withholding this money is placing hospitals under significant financial and operational pressure. Critics of the threshold have said that it financially penalises trusts which have good and popular A&E departments.