Carrying out fewer operations costs Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn £2.8m in lost income

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt

Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A Norfolk hospital's financial pressures are being made worse by a £2.8m drop in income from operations.

Jon Green, new chief executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Chris Bishop

Jon Green, new chief executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn had a deficit of £18m on its £172m budget last year. It said 'winter pressures' had forced it to spend £1.2m a month on temporary staff.

This year managers hoped to cut the overspend to £16.3m. But a report to the QEH's board warns it is already £3.2m over-budget.

It says lost clinical income accounts for £2.8m of that figure. The hospital says it has carried out less operations than expected over the year to date although it has not provided precise figures.

In a statement, it said: 'This is due to a range of factors including infection control issues, which means that we had to shut beds, increased demand for our emergency services and availability of medical teams to schedule procedures. We cancelled no more procedures than normally occurs due to unforeseen operational reasons as we planned ahead, foresaw we would have some of these problems and did not book people in.

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'The loss of clinical income shows we have done everything needed to run safely during a challenged time. This shows we always put patients first and that while finances are important we will never do anything to compromise patient safety.'

In another report to the board the hospital's chief executive Jon Green admits the financial challenges it faces are 'very significant'.

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'Our regulator, NHSI is taking an enhanced interest in the trust as a result of our financial performance to date this year and has offered support to the trust,' he adds.

'NHSI has however also challenged the trust to recover its position and we don't have long to do this.'

Mr Green warns there will 'inevitably be some pain' as the hospital tries to reduce costs.

Alex Stewart, chief executive at Healthwatch Norfolk said: 'While inconvenient for those affected, we believe precautionary cancellations of this nature are not uncommon at hospitals across our region to ensure patients can be treated safely.

'We will however raise the issue at the hospital's next patient experience panel to clarify our understanding and ensure everything possible is being done to mitigate against it.'

Lessons learned over 'unfiled' records

The hospital has pledged lessons have been learned after confidential patient records were left lying under a desk.

A report to board members at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn reveals 'numerous' cancer patients' records were stored unfiled under a desk in an open office for a year. The exact number has not been revealed.

Jon Wade, the hospital's director of IT and strategy, said: 'The protection of patient confidentiality and data is something we take very seriously at the trust .

'We have investigated this matter, which was down to an administrative issue, and we have taken steps to ensure that this does not happen in the future.

'All the records were available to clinicians so no harm came to patients. We would like to reassure all patients that their records are treated confidentially.'

The NHS website says: 'There are strict laws and regulations to ensure your health records are kept confidential.'

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