DECEMBER’S surge of admissions to emergency departments has left the county’s Acute Hospitals NHS Trust in a sorry financial state.
Last month saw the greatest number of admissions to the three hospitals run by the trust – Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital – forcing the organisation to spend £700,000 more than its budget for the month, pushing its overall year-to-date deficit to £10.4 million.
At first meeting of the trust’s board of 2014 on Wednesday, January 29 members heard the situation was only going to get worse, with the organisation looking likely to be fined up to £3 million by Clinical Commissioning Groups in the county for missing performance standards, meaning the total deficit by the end of the financial year was now forecast at £13.4 million.
Deputy chief executive Chris Tidman described the forecast as “disappointing for everyone”.
“Clearly the trust cannot sustain this deficit,” he said.
“The CCGs do intend to fine us, as is their right. In previous years that money has been reinvested in services but it doesn’t look like that will happen this time.
“There just doesn’t appear to be any extra money.”
Although the trust had initially planned for a £5 million deficit, it now looks set to significantly miss this target due to a number of factors include an unexpected removal of about £13 million of government funding last year as well as requirement to make £12 million in efficiency savings.
Mr Tidman said one way to relieve the burden would be to get people out of the acute hospitals as quickly as possible.
“An acute bed might cost £2,000 a week while a nursing home bed might cost £600 a week,” he said.
“We can’t simply open up new beds and charge more because that’s not a good use of taxpayer’s money.
“We need to do whatever we can to get the best outcome for Worcestershire.”
In September the trust’s chairman Harry Turner said he rejected accusations the organisation was “a basket case trust financially”.
Trust chief executive Penny Venables said: “We are not alone if you look at other NHS trusts in the country.
“We just can’t provide everything we have to provide with the money we have.”