Ipswich: Hospital is facing a £3.4million shortfall

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

Health chiefs are set to hold urgent meetings after it emerged Ipswich Hospital’s finances are £3.4million in the red, four months into the financial year.

But Paul Scott, the hospital’s finance and performance director, has vowed that action is being taken to get the trust back on track.

The £3.4m deficit, which has more than doubled from the £1.5m deficit recorded in April, comes despite the trust budgeting a £190,000 surplus.

Mr Scott said the trust’s deficit has been driven by four factors - a shortfall on income, emergency activity being higher than planned causing costs to rise as the hospital needs to use temporary staff, pay costs being higher than planned and a small shortfall in the trust’s CIP plan.

“We have put in immediate controls to ensure that our pay costs are reduced and this has seen a reduction in temporary staff pay of £0.4m in July which has contributed to a small surplus in July,” he added.

“We are continuing to develop recovery plans which are focused on pay cost control and the development of safe plans that will improve our costs.

“We are supporting these with a clinical led strategy at each specialty level.

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“We will have a better view of our prospects at month six but we anticipate being able to build on the improvements in July and to be able to trade as planned in the final quarter of this year.

“At all times we will ensure that our plans protect or enhance the quality of patient care at Ipswich Hospital”.

The pressures of the Heath Road hospital’s Accident & Emergency department is also taking its toll with ambulance handovers exceeding time limits, incurring fines.

In the current financial year the hospital has been fined £69,000 for 69 occasions where handovers exceeded 60 minutes and £65,200 for 326 breaches of exceeding the 30 minutes target.

A hospital spokesman said: “Like many hospitals across the country we have seen a record number of people attending the Emergency Department this summer and saw more people in July since records began.

“The increased number of people attending has sadly led to longer handover times which we have been fined for.

“We, like other hospitals up and down the country are working hard to address this and make handovers as swift as possible”.