NHS Trust in good health
AN NHS trust is celebrating after clawing its way back to a sound financial footing after starting the year facing a £3.6million debt.North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has achieved a break-even position at the end of the financial year, despite predictions of the overspend at its start.
AN NHS trust is celebrating after clawing its way back to a sound financial footing after starting the year facing a £3.6million debt.
North Essex Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust has achieved a break-even position at the end of the financial year, despite predictions of the overspend at its start.
Chairman Mary St Aubyn said: "The break-even figure is a huge achievement. The last year has been tough with concerns about staffing levels and a difficult financial position.
"Through perseverance, patience and determination of our staff and the support of our partners, we have pulled back from a forecast deficit and are in a much better position to face future financial challenges."
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Support from primary care trusts and cuts in management costs, she added, had contributed to the end of year figure.
Last summer, a range of measures were put in place as part of a three-year plan to create a firm financial footing for the organisation. The break-even position means the trust should achieve its financial targets by March 2004 – a year sooner than predicted.
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Director of resources Andrew Geldard said: "To ensure that we achieve a long-term financial equilibrium we need to find savings that have a permanent year-on-year effect. We are over half-way towards this target – in 2002/3 we achieved £1.85million of recurring savings and our target for next year is £1.75million."
The trust's financial plans will enable the organisation to achieve a five-year programme to improve local mental health services and meet national targets. These include the provision of a psychiatric high care unit at Willow House on the Severalls site in Colchester, subject to consultation, and extending assertive outreach for individuals who need extra support in the community across the whole of north Essex.
Consultation plans about how the trust will reach its financial targets have been developed. Proposals include not reopening four of its 84 units which have had their capacity reduced or have been temporarily closed since Christmas.
These earlier changes were made to reduce money spent on agency staff, to prevent soaring costs, alleviate staffing pressures and to make sure standards of care were maintained.
Ms St Aubyn added: "We are trying to make the best use of our resources. We need to make changes to how local mental health services are provided and work out how adjustments can be made to improve them.
"We will talk and listen to everybody involved to ensure that the impact of any changes is minimised."