Healthy finances boost community trust despite pressures facing NHS

Most NHS trusts, including hospitals, are predicting deficits this year. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/P

Most NHS trusts, including hospitals, are predicting deficits this year. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

An NHS health trust which provides community services to patients is bucking a trend by expecting to earn a surplus of cash this year.

Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust (NCH&C), based at Norwich Community Hospital, hopes to end this financial year £1.5m better off - in stark contrast to the majority of other NHS providers.

A total of 142 of 244 NHS trusts are currently in deficit.

The only other NHS trust in the region to predict a surplus is the James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Gorleston.

NCH&C chairman Geraldine Broderick told a meeting of the trust's board of directors yesterday: 'The finance report took me by pleasant surprise.

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'Well done to the whole organisation.'

Andrew Hopkins, finance director at NCH&C, said the financial view had 'improved significantly' in recent months thanks to recovery plans being enacted in every part of the trust.

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The predicted surplus does however fall £400,000 short of the target set by regulator NHS Improvement (£1.9m).

Some confusion has also arisen over the trust's spending on agency staff.

According to Mr Hopkins the trust is in the top quartile of NHS organisations in the Midlands and East region for low agency expenditure - yet it continues to breach its cap, which is set by NHS Improvement.

Mr Hopkins said: 'The trust believes its ceiling may have been set inappropriately.'

The James Paget Hospital trust is hoping to record a surplus of £2.3m, while the Norfolk and Norwich and Queen Elizabeth hospitals expect deficits of £25m and £11.8m respectively.

West Suffolk Hospital expects a deficit of £5m, while mental health providers Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is predicting a £4.8m deficit. The financial year ends on March 31.

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