Debts will stop foundation status bid
CRIPPLING health debts will prevent a Suffolk hospital from applying for coveted foundation trust status for at least two years, it has been revealed.The unrest surrounding multi-million pound debts at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, deepened last night as bosses admitted they had given up on trust status in the short-term.
CRIPPLING health debts will prevent a Suffolk hospital from applying for coveted foundation trust status for at least two years, it has been revealed.
The unrest surrounding multi-million pound debts at West Suffolk Hospital, Bury St Edmunds, deepened last night as bosses admitted they had given up on trust status in the short-term.
They are now refocusing their efforts into climbing out of the financial black hole, believed to be more than £13million of historic and current debts, after revealing these would have to be reduced to less than £1m to gain the sought-after status. It follows the trust's unsuccessful in its bid for foundation status last year.
Hospital director of finance Linda Potter said the trust was still confident of achieving the status, which gives health chiefs greater financial independence.
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“We now believe we will not be ready to apply for trust status for two years. This will still be very challenging but I think the organisation is up for that challenge,” she said.
“We have not given up on foundation trust status as we think it will benefit local people and give them a greater say in what is happening at the hospital. We think it will give us greater financial freedom and make us masters of our own destiny.”
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The hospital's bid for foundation status was focused on in an action plan between the trust, the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority, Monitor - the body which grants the status - and financial experts Deloitte.
But their plans were foiled due to a £1.3m shortfall on the annual amount needed to break even - while the trust is still battling a £12m historic debt to the Department of Health.
Mr Spring said local health chiefs had made good steps to recover some of the balance but said the beleaguered hospital still needed help.
“Residents in west Suffolk are prisoners of the fact that finances in Suffolk are so below the national average,” Mr Spring said.
“If we had the per capita funding, anything approaching the national average, there would be no budgetary problems.”
But Gill Malik, national executive member for Unison at the hospital, said: “Our organisation is dead against applying for foundation trust status, on a national and local level.
“We don't want the private sector coming into the NHS and I don't think it will give the West Suffolk any greater financial freedom.”