CASH-strapped Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) is looking at an end of year financial deficit of £57.9million – £15m more than originally planned.
The shortfall has resulted in the Trust flirting with being placed in Financial Special Measures, however instead NHS Improvement has scheduled a series of meetings with WAHT finance chiefs to monitor its progress.
The deficit means to make ends meet until March the Trust will be seeking cash support – pending approval from NHSI and the Department of Health.
Meanwhile the Trust is stepping up its cost improvement programme, which has so far failed to deliver the savings expected, falling £6.8m short of an anticipated £12m.
A financial recovery plan is also looking for savings with monthly targets to hit – and last week’s Trust board meeting heard that ‘deviation from the plan will not be acceptable’.
WAHT health chiefs have been battling against increased winter pressures and the need to spend more to cope.
These have included the new county-wide frailty unit at the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch and the expanded ambulatory care unit at Worcestershire Royal.
In addition, on top of the planned reduction in elective surgery at Worcestershire Royal in late December and January came the national directive to cancel non-urgent and non-cancer surgery until the end of January, costing the Trust much needed income.
Meanwhile staff shortages have had to be met by spending out on bank and agency workers.
Other matters are outside the control of the Trust – a survey of the Alexandra Hospital and Worcestershire Royal found there were 100 patients medically fit for discharge but with nowhere to go, directly affecting the ability of Accident and Emergency departments to admit patients.
A spokesperson for WAHT said: “While the financial challenge facing the Trust is significant, a robust Financial Recovery Plan is in place to ensure we fulfil our commitment to meet our agreed control total.
“This includes continued focus on a number of key projects – including recruitment and retention to reduce our spend on temporary staff, and strengthened procurement processes.”