Hospital faces £8m budget shortfall

PUBLISHED: 16:27 09 April 2015 | UPDATED: 16:27 09 April 2015

Chief  executive Nick Wood outside Weston General Hospital.

Chief executive Nick Wood outside Weston General Hospital.

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WESTON General Hospital is facing losses of almost £8million this year, but its chief executive says the 'challenging' financial position will not stop it delivering a health service for the town to be proud of.

Bosses of Weston Area Health NHS Trust (WAHT), like at all UK hospitals, have had to make millions of pounds worth efficiency savings each year and will require additional financial support from the Department of Health to cover the shortfall.

WAHT’s budget was agreed last week and despite a £7.95million deficit, chief executive Nick Wood (pictured) said investment is planned to improve the quality of patients’ care, despite it having to provide more services without getting extra funding.

One key area where patients can expect to see improvements is the hospital’s four main operating theatres, which will be ‘modernised’ at a cost of £1.45million.

In the 2014-15 financial year, WAHT had a £4million deficit – an improvement on what was projected – and still managed to employ more nurses and doctors.

That recruitment drive will continue in 2015-16.

WAHT has just hired six Spanish nurses and hopes to employ a total of 35 from abroad this financial year.

Mr Wood said: “Over the past two years the trust has been actively seeking to recruit trained nurses from the UK and overseas, both of these campaigns have been successful and resulted in 22 nurses joining us last year.

“The recruitment environment in the UK is challenging and many trusts recruit from abroad to fill the vacancies that exist.

“Our aim this year is to bring in a further 35 nurses from abroad in addition to our planned UK recruitment.”

WAHT’s 2015-16 budget shows a projected spend of £104.413million and an income of £98.422million, leading to the near-£8million shortfall after interest is calculated. The trust hopes that position will improve, like it did in 2014-15.

Mr Wood said the financial ‘challenge’ showed why the trust needs taking on by a bigger NHS organisation with an expected acquisition by Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust being worked on.

He said: “Over the past four years the NHS has seen a flat cash settlement each year, which presents organisations with the challenge of delivering more each year for the same money and having to mitigate any inflationary pressures within its operating plans.

“This has resulted in a requirement to deliver about four per year in cost savings and efficiencies to balance the books each year.

“During this period WAHT has delivered a significantly improved financial position and invested in services.

“We’ve also received investment from the local CCG to support service development and delivery which we have been able to deploy to increase the activities and services.”

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