THE cash-strapped health trust which runs the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch is losing approximately £1 million a week – and needs ‘significant levels of further working capital’ if it is to meet its financial commitments.
A report to the board of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT) says a temporary working sum of £19 million is in place but it must start ‘immediate recovery actions’ to maintain the trust’s sustainability.
The document details how a planned deficit for July of £13.5 million had ballooned to £18.3 million putting the trust on course to miss its original financial target and the NHS Trust Development Authority ‘stretch’ target which allowed it more leeway.
The author of the report, the interim director of finance, Colin Gentile, outlined three key areas where the money is being lost:
1) Fines and penalties levelled at the trust for not reaching patient care targets – these include WAHT not hitting the outpatient referral to treatment target, the 62 day cancer standard performance, or the Emergency Access Standard in A&E – a target missed for ten consecutive months.
2) The impact of ‘fit to go’ patients using up trust bed space, meaning it can’t carry out elective surgery which earns the trust income and which reduces the beds available to patients in A&E – increasing waiting times in that department. Patients in these beds are often people not warranting hospital care but without the social services framework in place to care for them outside of it.
3) The cost of additional staff – the trust spent nearly £3 million on temporary staff in July, a large number of whom came from the most expensive provider of agency nurses in the country. At the same time sickness rates among staff is above target while staff turnover has also risen.
Health chiefs will consider the implications of the report at their board meeting today, Wednesday (September 9).