By Connie Osborne Thursday 03 October 2013 Updated: 04/10 11:37
HOSPITAL bosses say finances are a ‘significant cause for concern’ after falling £2.6 million deeper into debt
The Trust, which runs the Alexandra Hospital, is currently £7.8 million in the red five months into the financial year despite expecting an overall deficit of £5.2 million.
A ten per cent fall in births and a drop in the number of planned operations in August have been blamed for the slide in finances, which if not reversed could see debts rise to £12 million by April 2014.
Nursing costs have also increased over the year, hitting £7.6 million in August - £350,000 higher than average over the winter months - despite fewer hospital beds being filled.
Total pay for staff reached £18.2 million during August compared to just over £17.6 million in the same month last year after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust filled around 60 locum and agency posts, mainly in A&E and emergency medicine.
But bosses said recruitment plans were in place to reduce agency staff and find permanent replacements or locums, while improving rotas and introducing newly-qualified nurses would hopefully see costs drop.
Director of resources Chris Tidman said although the financial position was ‘clearly disappointing’, there should be a gradual improvement.
“We were expecting to be ahead of plan on income at this stage but we do have a rise in our waiting list. We are significantly down on electives which really affects the situation.”
He admitted there were higher risks as the Trust headed into the winter period, which usually sees an increase in A&E admissions as well as more complicated illnesses.
“Clearly if in October we do not see a change then it would be a significant concern.”
He added more staff had been recruited to decrease spending on agency and bank staff while A&E admissions were also down on last month which was ‘encouraging’.
Stewart Messer, director of operations for the Trust, said they had also successfully recruited two stroke nurses and two doctors for A&E for October and November and were starting to see recruitment for historically difficult positions.
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