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Hospital budget deficit £2.7m in only three months
A HOSPITAL deficit has grown to nearly £3 million only three months into the financial year.
However, NHS chiefs in Worcestershire say they can close the gap during the rest of the year and even move into surplus later in 2012/13 after breaking even last year.
Leaders at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, which has a budget of about £330 million a year, has reported a £2.7 million deficit so far in 2012/13.
We reported last month how the deficit was £1.9 million, meaning it has grown by £800,000 in the last four weeks.
NHS chiefs who run Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester say they had anticipated a deficit at this stage but admit the deficit is still £700,000 bigger than they had planned.
Finance director Chris Tidman spoke of his concern at a trust meeting at the Charles Hastings Education Centre at the hospital.
He said: “The original plan always assumed we would start with a deficit because our income has been reduced by four per cent. That has to come off every month but there was always going to be a deficit. The deficit we’re reporting is £2.7 million. That’s clearly a significant concern because we are behind where we thought we would be.”
Mr Tidman said reasons for the slippage against the planned deficit was that the trust was behind with its savings plans, which are £15 million for 2012/13. Bosses have reported a £1 million shortfall against the plan which Mr Tidman described as “disappointing”. He said if things continue the way they are going the trust will only save about £10 million – £5 million under target for the year.
Efforts are being made to turn the situation around, including the appointment of a new chief operating officer, Stewart Messer, to look into it.
The other pressure that has prevented the trust making savings is the 10 per cent increase in emergency demand above plan.
Mr Tidman said the increase in demand had placed hospitals under “incredible strain”.
He said: “We can’t underestimate the impact of that increase in demand on our services at a time when we need to be reducing our capacity and, in some cases, taking some beds out of the system.”