Hospital projects on hold in cash freeze

HEALTH chiefs in west Suffolk have put a temporary freeze on new investment projects at a hospital while a review of finances is carried out, it emerged last night.

The reason, according to bosses at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds, is that its spending so far this year has been “significantly above budget.”

The move means only those projects already accounted for in the budget will go ahead.

New capital schemes are being temporarily suspended until the next hospital board meets later this month.

In her report to the board, Linda Potter, director of finance and information, revealed how the current overspend for the year so far was �1.8million.


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The situation, she said, was caused by pay costs being over-budget to the tune of �370,000, clinical costs over-budget by �500,000 and a bill for external services being �200,000 more than expected.

Ms Potter said yesterday: “We keep our finances under constant review and have revised our end-of-year forecasts following changes to our original budget.

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“We feel it is prudent to review our uncommitted capital schemes as part of this process.

“As such, our board has deferred making a decision on these projects until its meeting later this month, by which stage the review will have been completed.”

As well the temporary halt on new investment schemes, hospital managers will be seeking to reduce the amount spent on agency staff and to achieve planned cost savings.

Despite the current situation, hospital bosses still expect to make a surplus of �1.2million this year – a sum which would bring the overall surplus to �3.6m.

Bosses at the hospital say generating a surplus is “crucial” to maintain the solid financial risk rating required so that a successful bid for Foundation Trust status can be lodged.

The status would allow the hospital greater freedom from Whitehall and the ability to re-invest any surplus funds according to local need.

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