Trust could be stripped of its stars

By Benedict O'ConnorHEALTH bosses have predicted a hospital trust could be given a “zero star rating” because of a budget deficit of more than £4.4million.

By Benedict O'Connor

HEALTH bosses have predicted a hospital trust could be given a “zero star rating” because of a budget deficit of more than £4.4million.

A board meeting of West Suffolk Primary Care Trust heard yesterday finance director, Aidan Dunn, predict it could lose the two stars it currently holds because of a “significant deficit”.

The new hospital ratings are expected to be announced on Monday, and under NHS rules if a trust has a financial deficit of more than 1% of its total budget, it will lose at least one star out of the maximum three available.


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At the meeting, where members approved the end of year accounts, trust chief executive, Tony Ranzetta, said the trust's overspend of £4.423m was far more than 1% of the trust's £199m budget.

However, although Mr Dunn said he expected both of the trust's stars could be lost because of the size of the deficit, Mr Ranzetta said there was a chance they could hang on to one star.

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According to the Commission for Health Improvement, which regulates the ratings service, a health trust with no stars has “shown the poorest levels of performance against the indicators or little progress in implementing clinical governance”.

But Mr Ranzetta claimed the rating had no bearing on the level of patient care and said standards would remain high in the trust - and although significant spending cuts had been identified, they would not have any affect on patients.

He said: “We inherited a £10m deficit when we came into being and we decided then, in 2002, that we would try to reduce this over three years, rather than in one year, which would have had a significant effect on patient

care.”

Mr Ranzetta added the trust was effectively entering the third year of that plan and although there had been some added financial pressures, schemes such as the planned new hospital for Sudbury were still on track.

Last week, it was revealed the trust could face an underlying deficit of more than £8m for the next financial year.

But Mr Ranzetta said that figure had been used to illustrate the worst possible scenario if nothing was done to reduce spending and added the trust was looking at cuts of about £5m.

benedict.o'connor@eadt.co.uk

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