County's £12m health overspend

By Jonathan BarnesNATIONAL Health Service trusts across Suffolk are forecasting a combined deficit of almost £12million at the end of the month.The dire financial situation is a result of a huge rise in emergency admissions to hospitals and rising costs of out-of-county mental health placements and other specialist referrals.

By Jonathan Barnes

NATIONAL Health Service trusts across Suffolk are forecasting a combined deficit of almost £12million at the end of the month.

The dire financial situation is a result of a huge rise in emergency admissions to hospitals and rising costs of out-of-county mental health placements and other specialist referrals.

But the county's NHS bosses are confident of delivering balanced budgets with “robust” recovery plans.


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A report to Suffolk County Council's health overview and scrutiny committee said NHS bodies in the county were forecasting a year-end deficit of more than £11.7m.

It said the financial position in Suffolk had “deteriorated sharply” during the financial year, due to a number of factors.

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Figures from the end of January showed Ipswich Primary Care Trust's deficit to be £3.338m, with Ipswich Hospital Trust £2.8m behind budget.

Central Suffolk Primary Care Trust was £1.5m in deficit, while Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trust (£1.2m), Suffolk West Primary Care Trust (£1.859m) and Waveney Primary Care Trust (£159,000) also fell behind.

The Local Health Partnership Trust was £900,000 in deficit, but West Suffolk Hospitals Trust's spending was on target to meet its budget.

The report, which will be discussed by councillors next Wednesday, outlined the primary reasons for the overspend.

They were:

n increasing levels of emergency admissions (up by 10% at Ipswich Hospital and 5% at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds)

n a significant number of delayed transfers of care or “bed-blockers”

n the rising costs of mental health placements out-of-county (£3m across the Suffolk primary care trusts)

n the inability of hospital trusts and primary care trusts to deliver their efficiency savings.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital and Ipswich, Central Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal Primary Care Trusts, said the overspend was a result of “huge demand” across the entire NHS system.

“There are very understandable and real reasons for this shortfall - it's not that we have wasted the money,” she added.

“It is about rising demand, especially in emergency admissions, and rising costs for complex cases - there has been a huge rise in demand for health care across the board.

“We are changing the way we deliver services, without affecting the service to patients, and have a very robust plan to manage our resources.

“There are detailed plans for the next three years to make sure we achieve financial balance year-on-year. It should also be pointed out that the overspend is only a small percentage of the overall budget.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk Primary Care Trust said the overspend was due to the rise in emergency admissions, but added extra Government funding of £17.7m next year would be used to clear this year's deficit.

“The West Suffolk Primary Care Trust has shouldered the consequences of the rise in emergency admissions and is working with the West Suffolk Hospital to tackle this,” he added.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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