Health trust losing £1.3m a month
8:55am Thursday 15th November 2012 in News
BOLTON NHS Foundation Trust is losing between £1.3 million and £1.5 million every month.
It comes after the cash-strapped trust, which runs the Royal Bolton Hospital and community-based services at health centres, announced 500 jobs, including some frontline staff, need to go to save money.
Of the 500 positions, 149 are nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.
A further 20 are medical and dental, 93 are technicians, scientists and clinical support, 193 are non-clinical staff and 45 are estate facilities.
Staff were told about the cuts on Tuesday, when a formal 90-day consultation period began.
Health chiefs stressed job losses will not affect patient care — but compulsory redundancies were not ruled out.
The trust, which is almost £8 million in the red, could be £16 million in deficit by the end of the year.
Each month, money is being lost through inefficiencies and because of contracts signed by the trust, which mean it is only paid for a certain level of work.
Trust chairman David Wakefield said: “We have known for a while the financial situation at the trust was serious and the fact we are running at a monthly loss is a sign of this.
“This is largely because our activity is above the level we are contracted for, so we aren’t receiving full payment for the work we do.
“There are also areas across the trust where efficiency is below planned levels. We are working hard to develop robust plans to address the financial situation without affecting the quality of patient care and as well as our internal review processes I will be seeking assurance by peer review from other trusts.“ Staff have been told about the trust’s financial situation in a newsletter from the new turnaround director Terry Watson, where he has asked for people to suggest ways they can help to make savings.
Mr Watson was brought into the trust as part of a £1 million turnaround package by its new interim chairman David Wakefield, who was appointed by health watchdog Monitor.
The trust, which was forced to borrow £8 million from the Department of Health to pay running costs and staff wages until the end of December, also has to make £38 million savings in the next two years following government cuts.
Monitor stepped in at the hospital in August after a damning financial report revealed £3.8 million was unaccounted for — it followed another critical report in March, which placed the hospital in “red risk” after it failed A&E and 18-week targets.
Monitor put the trust at the highest risk level and Mr Wakefield was brought in to replace Cllr Cliff Morris, the leader of Bolton Council.
PricewaterhouseCoopers was also brought in to find out how the trust had ended the year £1.9 million in deficit when it had been forecast to have a £1.9 million surplus.
The turnaround team, headed by Mr Watson, includes management consulting experts from Deloitte and two senior members of staff who have been brought in to give additional support to the operation.
Geoff Stokes, who has experience in management consulting at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, is the head of programme office at the trust.
Chris West, who has experience tackling similar issues in other trusts, has been appointed as turnaround manager.
They have formed a turnaround board, which includes the hospital’s executive directors and other key senior staff. It meets each week.
The team is focusing on the health economy, which includes urgent care, efficiency, which includes theatres, outpatients, beds, pathology,and radiology, the workforce, including pay, nursing, medical and non-clinical, and non-pay workstreams, including states, income, pharmacy and procurement to make savings.
In the newsletter, which has been emailed to staff and put on the trust’s intranet, Mr Watson said: “All staff should be aware the Trust has very serious financial problems.
“We are now working on developing a major programme of activities aimed at reshaping the organisation to remove the deficit in a safe and sustainable way.
Later this month, Mr Wakefield will take the trust’s recovery plan to Monitor.
Mr Wakefield said he knew the anxiety that the job cut announcement would cause staff and said they were trying to avoid compulsory redundancies.
He added: “We have to make savings and make them quickly if the Trust is to become financially stable going forward.”