Hospital finances plunge into the red – the NHS this week

By Richard Grimes

NHS hospital trusts will be having their end of year board meetings in the next few weeks, so we will see lots of reports of bigger-than-expected financial deficits. There’s a few in this week’s update, and they all show that the situation is worse than was expected. There were dire reports a few months back about trusts’ deficits – and now it looks like the deficits are worse than even those gloomy predictions. Expect next week to bring more tales of financial woe.

Finances

  • Great Western Hospital in Swindon had a deficit of £10m last financial year and has been told that it needs to make “savings” of £16m this financial year.
  • George Eliot Hospital in Nuneaton says that it is facing a £19m deficit with one month left to the end of the financial year; this exceeds the planned full year deficit of £15.3m. Next year the trust expects the deficit to be bigger. The trust’s Finance Director, Shahana Khan, said that the Trust Development Agency had proposed that next year the Trust’s deficit should be no more than £20.7m, but she had rejected this as “not achievable”.
  • Birmingham Women’s Hospital have reported a £3.4 million loss for the last financial year, prompting the hospitals regulator, NHS Improvement, to launch an investigation into the trust’s “deteriorating finances”.
  • The Essex “Success Regime” conference was told that the deficit of the hospitals in Basildon, Southend and Mid Essex could rise to £200 million by 2019. Two Essex hospitals are in “special measures” with “allegations of bullying” and a claim that there are 800 fewer nurses than are needed in the county.

A&E waiting times

Royal Bolton Hospital says it expect its A&E to get busier due to the temporary closure of Chorley Hospital A&E. On Easter Monday, Royal Bolton declared a “critical incident”, meaning that it was unable to deliver critical services due to the numbers of patients in A&E. The GMB union says that Chorley’s ambulance network will be “bled dry taking patients to other hospitals, leaving the district with limited emergency cover”. Meanwhile, more than 17,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Chorley A&E unit to reopen.

In February, only 79.8 percent of patients attending A&E at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn were seen within the four hour target.

Cuts

  • In East Hertfordshire 40 percent of practices have one or more vacancies for a GP, and in North Hertfordshire the figure is 70 percent.
  • A leaked review into children’s cancer care in London has suggested that the Royal Marsden unit in Sutton should close.
  • Leaked documents suggest that the A&E department at King George Hospital in Goodmayes could be closed after 8pm every night.

Campaigns

  • In York, lawyers acting on behalf of patients are challenging the decision by the Care Quality Commission to close Bootham Park Hospital at short notice last year.
  • There is a growing campaign in South Shields over a planned “alliance” between City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust and South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust. There are fears that South Tyneside Hospital will be downgraded to a “cottage hospital”.
  • Patients in St Austell have launched a campaign over the “noticeable decline in service” after the amalgamation of the four GP practices in the town into a “super practice” last August.
  • On Saturday 30 April there will be a march through Huntingdon in protest against the proposed merger between Hinchingbrooke Healthcare NHS Trust and Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust.
  • More than 100,000 people have signed a petition urging the House of Commons to debate the plan to close the Maternity Unit and Children’s Unit at Ealing However, the government’s petitions committee have rejected the call saying that it is “a local issue”.
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