Health trust faces £6m deficit
By Jonathan BarnesA HEALTH trust is facing a budget deficit of more than £6million - and concerns have been raised about the time it has taken to appoint a finance director to solve monetary problems.
By Jonathan Barnes
A HEALTH trust is facing a budget deficit of more than £6million - and concerns have been raised about the time it has taken to appoint a finance director to solve monetary problems.
Bosses at Ipswich Primary Care Trust have also discovered an extra £1.5m of spending in last year's accounts that had been missed due to an accounting error.
The extra overspend has heaped further pressure on what has been described as an “extremely challenging” year for the trust.
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Figures included in a report going before the trust's board tomorrow showed its budget deficit set for 2004/05 was £6.2m.
The trust is expected to make £5.2m of savings as part of a major financial recovery plan, but those figures have not yet been worked in to the budget.
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In the report, Peter Mickelsen, its interim finance director, said: “Strong management is required to deliver the CRES (cash releasing efficiency savings) targets, control budgetary pressures and achieve savings described in the financial recovery plan.
“Financial management and recovery systems need urgent strengthening and improvement to ensure early warnings of slippage against plans are reported accurately and promptly to those who can effect change.”
Mr Mickelsen said the management teams of the three east Suffolk primary care trusts have been working together as one department.
But he added: “It is of major concern that the appointment of a finance director for the economy has not yet been made.”
The report added the trust has been unsuccessful in gaining extra funding from the strategic health authority to ease the financial situation.
Finance experts are hoping to find £9m of savings across east Suffolk this year in areas such as reducing demand on Ipswich Hospital (£2.2m).
Although savings will hopefully be made, debts to the strategic health authority incurred by overspends in previous years and inherited debt are unlikely to be cleared.
The board will also hear tomorrow how £1.52m of spending was missed from last year's accounts due to accounting errors when dealing with invoices for drugs. The money will add to the trust's debts.
The trust's audit committee has now agreed a set of procedures to stop any similar accounting mistakes being missed in the future.
No-one from the trust was available for comment yesterday.