Ban on hospital 'non-essential spending' as Trust faces £37million funding gap
PLYMOUTH Hospitals NHS Trust has admitted it has banned all non-essential spending as it faces a £37million hole in its finances.
Joe Teape, deputy chief executive and director of finance, said that for 2013/2014 the Trust’s income had fallen while costs had continued to rise and the gap between planned income and expenditure was £37million for this year.
He said: “We face increased costs because of the demand on the services we provide. In many areas we have invested millions of pounds in services to meet rising demand.”
Among the investments were the opening of new beds “to ensure patients who come in as emergency patients can be safely treated without having to cancel other patients who have come in for operations.”
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In addition he said the Trust had implemented new standards set by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE), seen additional nurses in Children’s Services and the Emergency Department as well as additional midwives.
He said: “Our priority is to continue to provide safe and effective care to our patients.
“We cannot make £37m worth of savings, equivalent to nine percent of our turnover, without impacting on patient care.
“This is why we took a decision back in April to seek cash support and forecast a deficit in the short term.
“We are saving £24m this year and we have been given £13m of cash support. This means that for 2013/14 we have forecast a £13m deficit.”
Answering reports that spending on “non-essential office items” like furniture had been banned, Mr Teape said the Trust had to be “absolutely rigorous” with the public’s money and had to “reluctantly” introduce financial controls on non-essential items such as conference trips and recruiting to posts that “do not directly benefit patient care”.
Parking charges for staff are also being examined, the Trust has admitted.
Nick Thomas, director of planning and site services at Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Our staff parking charges have been frozen at current levels for the past five years, as we always promised they would be.
“Whilst an increase in parking charges is now inevitable, we are working closely with our union and staff side colleagues to consider all of the different options and to ensure we do it in the fairest way.”