Weston General Hospital announces budget cuts of £4.5million as bosses discuss performance, A&E, and finance

PUBLISHED: 11:55 15 September 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 15 September 2017

Weston General Hospital in Grange Road, Weston-super-Mare.

Weston General Hospital in Grange Road, Weston-super-Mare.

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Weston General Hospital will make £4.5million of cuts this financial year, despite it failing to meet planned savings for 2016/17 and ending the year with a deficit of £7.2million.

Weston Area Health NHS Trust, which runs Weston’s hospital, has had its annual meeting where its finances, performance and future plans were discussed. Here are the key bits of information from the meeting…

What is the state of Weston General Hospital’s finances?

The hospital spends £104million a year but gets less than that in funding and so operates within a deficit.

This money is taken out as a loan from the Department of Health in order to ensure the hospital can pay all of its bills.

In 2016/17 the hospital planned to make £4.1million of savings but failed, and only saved £2.5million.

This meant the hospital did not meet its planned deficit of £3.2million and ended the year with a deficit of £7.19million.

At the annual meeting, the Trust’s interim finance director Steve Simmons described the hospital’s finances as ‘very challenging’ and said: “It’s like wringing out a sponge, it gets harder and harder as the sponge gets drier.”

He also said the temporary closure of A&E at night is ‘not good news’ for the Trust’s financial stability.

But despite the hospital’s financial failures in 2016/17, it plans to make £4.5million of savings in 2017/18 to end the year with a deficit of £6.03million.

Weston General Hospital.Weston General Hospital.

How good is the quality of care at Weston General Hospital?

The hospital treated 150,000 outpatients last year, had 14,000 emergency admissions and 53,000 people attended its A&E.

Chief executive James Rimmer said the hospital has done an ‘excellent job’ caring for its planned patients, but admitted there are difficulties within its emergency department.

The national target is for 95 per cent of patients to be seen within four hours, but Weston saw just 76.5 per cent of people within this time in 2016/17.

However this is improving, and so far this year this figure sits at 87.4 per cent.

The hospital also saw a rise in the number of cancelled operations in the past year, with 6.95 per cent of its operations cancelled in 2016/17 compared to 1.81 per cent in 2015/16.

However the hospital has improved in many other areas.

Its test for sickness bug norovirus used to take two days, but now it takes two hours which has helped to improve infection control.

The hospital has also not had an outbreak of MRSA for two years and has improved how it works with pharmacists to ensure patients have the right medication on admission.

Weston General Hospital's A&E department.Weston General Hospital's A&E department.

Across the hospital 5,707 patient safety incidents were recorded in 2016/17 but the majority of these did not result in harm and the hospital has reduced the number of patients injured in falls by 44 per cent.

What does the Care Quality Commission say about Weston General Hospital?

The hospital was inspected by the CQC earlier this year, which led to the temporary overnight closure of A&E.

When the CQC visited in May 2015 it looked at eight areas and found half of them were good but four required improvement.

Mr Rimmer said: “The great news is when they came back, they found three out of four of the ones which were not good had improved.”

But inspectors found the quality of emergency and urgent care at the hospital had taken a step backwards.

Mr Rimmer said: “We focused on daily on safety in our emergency department, but two years later there were still issues and we took the decision to close it overnight temporarily.

“It was about making sure enough staff could be provided for when our A&E is open.”

The hospital does not have enough consultants and middle grade doctors in its A&E to provide a safe 24-hour service, but is actively recruiting so it can re-open A&E while exploring other ways it can cater for emergency patients at night.

Mr Rimmer said: “If the temporary closure of A&E has shown nothing else, it has shown a great passion for Weston Hospital from the people of this town.”

MORE: Weston A&E closure: What is really happening behind the scenes?

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