£7m loan to bail out cash-strapped trust

ESSENTIAL health services are being run on a £7million loan granted to Weston General Hospital. The two-year loan from the South West Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is a one-off to help the hospital balance its books before a new 'fairer' funding system

ESSENTIAL health services are being run on a £7million loan granted to Weston General Hospital.The two-year loan from the South West Strategic Health Authority (SHA) is a one-off to help the hospital balance its books before a new 'fairer' funding system comes into effect.Chief executive of Weston Area Health NHS Trust, Mark Gritten, said: "Every month we get hammered for our financial position, but in reality people recognise that we are lean, efficient and proactive but we are caught in the transition to the new payment by results system."The SHA recognises that it will take two years before that payment system is fully working."If we weren't able to get financial support we'd have to stop a lot of what we do. Therefore the SHA has arranged a loan over two years that we will pay back once the new system comes in."In the meantime we are making sure we keep providing services to patients using loan support rather than stopping running services."Despite the loan and cuts in beds and nursing staff, the hospital is set to go millions over budget this financial year.Bosses think the hospital will break even in 2008/9, but with loans and debts from four bad years, the hospital is not likely to be in the black until 2011/12.Mr Gritten added: "This year we estimate an overspend of £3.4m to £5m, depending how successful the savings we are working on at the moment are. We think it will be nearer to the £5m mark because it's such a huge savings plan."That still means we have delivered £6m of savings. If we had made no savings we would be £11m overspent.


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