Government informed over hospital's debts

PUBLISHED: 09:01 06 August 2014 | UPDATED: 09:01 06 August 2014

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.

Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt.

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CONCERN over Weston General Hospital's poor financial state has resulted in it being referred to the Secretary of State.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT) is one of 19 health organisations to be criticised by the independent 
Audit Commission after failing to break even.

The watchdog, which looked at the finances of all the health trusts in England and Wales, has referred WAHT to Jeremy Hunt MP, the Health Secretary.

A WAHT spokesman said the problems financing the care were not new but improving year-on-year.

The now-defunct North Somerset Primary Care Trust used to provide a lucrative annual £5million funding stream to the hospital but that was stopped when the new North Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group was created.

The WAHT spokesman added: “The historic financial pressures on the trust are well-documented and well-known.

“Despite this, in the last financial year we successfully reduced our forecast financial deficit from £6million to £4.95million and then reduced it further to £4.65million.”

Difficulty in balancing the books is one of the reasons why WAHT will be acquired by a neighbouring health trust over the next nine months, which 
will secure the hospital’s long-term future.

A procurement bidding process is underway to find the new NHS operator for Weston General Hospital.

University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Taunton and Musgrove Park NHS Foundation Trust are the three in the running. The preferred party will be announced in October and it will take full control next April.

The WAHT spokesman said: “The Audit Commission’s move further justifies the trust’s decision to go down an NHS-only route and seek a new NHS partner for Weston to give the trust the long-term financial security it needs.

“As part of their bid for Weston, the successful trust needs to clearly demonstrate that they will be able to provide financial stability for the trust over the next three years.”

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