The bleak financial outlook of cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital took a turn for the better yesterday as it emerged the trust has been awarded more than £7million to help rectify its position.

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Finance chiefs at the Heath Road site have now made the bold prediction of being debt free by the end of this financial year – a welcome tonic for the hospital’s board which has been dealing with a spiralling debt over the last nine months.

At one point it was mooted a £3m loan may have been needed to plug the hole in the hospital’s finances.

But with bailout funds totalling £7.5m, which have come from NHS England, and a host of savings already being made, the trust’s management says it is more positive about the future.

Speaking at the hospital’s board of governors monthly meeting yesterday, Paul Scott, director of performance and finance, said: “The cash position remains tight but we won’t need to get a loan because we have the additional income.

“We will be debt free by the end of this year.”

Before the funds were awarded, the trust was shouldering a deficit of £7.2m.

To be given the cash, the trust needed to make a number of savings and prove to NHS England that it was capable of being financially stable and sustainable.

Within the savings programme was a decision to reduce the amount of money the hospital spent on agency and temporary staff by appointing more people to permanent roles.

Nick Hulme, chief executive, said the funds showed that other people have recognised the “success of the savings programme” but he stressed that thoughts were already turning to next year to maintain the position.

He added: “We had a very challenging internal cost improvement programme and we have delivered against that.

“It (money) gives us support so we have got a bit of time to get longer term financial stability.

“It is a credit to everybody”.

In a statement, NHS England said it had been agreed that £7.5million of additional funding would be awarded to the Trust.

The statement added: “These monies will be passed to NHS Ipswich & East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group who will now commence contract discussions with Ipswich Hospitals NHS Trust to establish how this resource can be utilised to support its transformation agenda.”

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