Norfolk and Suffolk hospitals record multi-million pound deficits

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Date: Aug 2014. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Mike Page

Hospital chiefs have moved to reassure patients that care will not be compromised as NHS trusts ended the last financial year £2.45 billion in the red.

The James Paget University Hospital (JPH) in Gorleston had a deficit of £6.5m; the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn of almost £13.9m; the West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds of £9.9m; the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (N&N) of £21.9m and Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge had not released details at the time of going to print.

Trusts said they were working to make the best use of resources, with action plans drawn up - including the N&N, which will appoint a financial turnaround director.

Latest figures even prompted one senior health boss to state on national radio that the UK should be prepared to question the principle of healthcare always being free at the point of use.

Craig Black, director of resources at the West Suffolk Hospital, said increases in demand and an increased number of patients whose discharge was delayed put pressure on the hospital.

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'As a result of this extra demand, we have also increased the number of permanent staff which we employ by 130,' he said. 'We are continuing to monitor our finances very closely so that we can make sure we are making the best use of our resources without compromising on the safety or quality of the services our patients receive.'

A JPH spokesman said increased demand meant the trust had to pay for temporary staff.

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'A full 'transformation plan' to make the necessary savings and return to surplus has been drawn up and is being implemented,' the spokesman said, adding that patients would not see a drop in standards.

'There will be no reduction in the quality of patient care at the JPH, which was highlighted as a strength of the hospital when it was rated as good last year by the Care Quality Commission (CQC),' the spokesman said.

The N&N will appoint a financial turnaround director and has agreed this with NHS Improvement, of which foundation trust regulator Monitor is a part.

The trust volunteered to take part in the Financial Improvement Programme (FIP), and only trusts with significant potential for return on investment were selected.

Mark Davies, chief executive of the N&N, said: 'It is clear that much of the challenging financial position is about demand, not inefficiency.

'From externally verified analysis, the N&N is the most efficient teaching hospital in the country.

'The demand we are faced with is rising relentlessly and we are treating more patients who require more complex care.'

He said he welcomed the extra support the financial turnaround director will bring.

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