Health trust debt to reach £5m

By John HowardHEALTH trust bosses have been told the organisation is forecast to have a deficit of almost £5million as it comes under increasing demand for its services.

By John Howard

HEALTH trust bosses have been told the organisation is forecast to have a deficit of almost £5million as it comes under increasing demand for its services.

The stark figures for 2003/04 have been revealed in a report to be discussed at a board meeting of Ipswich Primary Care Trust.

The trust's finances have come under immense pressure, particularly from: a rise in emergency admissions; expensive placements for individual patents, largely for mental healthcare; the increasing cost of drugs recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence; and an underlying deficit.

Managers and staff at the trust have worked hard to reduce costs, finding savings across the board in an effort to keep the deficit down, but it has been warned the organisation's deficit was predicted to reach £4.7million.

A spokesman for the trust said: "We have been taking action throughout the year to address these issues. Despite our best efforts, the latest forecast of the financial deficit for 2003/04, that is the difference between the funding received by the trust and the amount of money we have had to pay for health are for local people, is around £4.7m, just over 3% of our total budget.

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"The rising cost of specialist care and the impact of increasing demand for health care, and the number of emergencies for example, have put immense pressure on the Ipswich Primary Care Trust budgets this year.

"Measures have been taken in 2003/04 to contain the primary care trust deficit as far as possible, which have required significant efforts on the part of all staff and managers. Achieving financial balance is a key priority for all NHS trusts.''

The trust has managed to make huge savings, including £40,000 on management costs, £75,000 efficiency savings and £319,000 in savings on third party budgets. But despite making savings, the trust plans to spend more on emergency care at Ipswich Hospital.

However, the Ipswich Primary Care Trust board meeting on Wednesday will be told there has also been excellent progress in bringing faster treatment and shorter waiting times for all health care, both within the community and at hospital.

john.howard@eadt.co.uk