£14 million budget deficit for hospitals

THE county’s hospitals are facing a predicted £14 million deficit in their finances according to Government health bosses.

The Department of Health is predicting the overspend in The United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT) budget for 2010/11 by the end of the financial year, on March 31.

Andrew North, chief executive for ULHT, said the deficit was caused by a number of factors including an ‘underlying financial situation which has been deteriorating over a number of years, increases in emergency activity and the costs of employing locum and agency medical staff’.

“We are closely examining every part of our expenditure to identify areas where savings can be made without compromising quality or patient safety,” said Mr North.

It is not yet known how the deficit will affect Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, or how many job losses this could lead to at the Sibsey Road site. The ULHT’s annual budget is currently shared among all their sites in Lincolnshire.

The trust admits there will need to be ‘significant changes’ to they way they work to make the savings.

Mr North said: “The Trust is now looking into management and administration costs, more efficient procurement and improved controls over workforce costs.” He added: “At present we are unable to say how this will affect individual hospital sites and we do not have a clear idea of how many jobs these reviews are likely to affect, but wherever possible we will reduce the impact on staff permanently employed by the trust.”

Mark Simmonds, MP for Boston and Skegness, said: “I hope the senior management will ensure there is minimal impact on frontline services at Pilgrim Hospital.”

The trust is finalising how much savings it will have to make over 2011/12 and will conclude contract negotiations with NHS Lincolnshire over the next two months.

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