Norovirus piles more pressure on Trust finances

Friday 01 February 2013 Updated: 01/02 15:17

FURTHER outbreaks of norovirus and a continued increase in the number of people attending A&E could put the Trust which runs Worcestershire Royal Hospital at risk of not balancing its books.

Chris Tidman, director of resources at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, admitted they were in a 'tight' position but he remained confident they could reverse the current £1.9million deficit and break even by April.

At its peak norovirus put 166 beds out of action in November across the county's hospitals and a similar number in December. As a result about 400 operations have had to be cancelled, costing the Trust about £1million in lost income.

This week another norovirus outbreak meant all three of the county's hospitals were closed to visitors.

On top of that the number of emergency admissions is still about ten per cent higher than the same time last year, with a particular increase in the number of people over 75 arriving at A&E departments by ambulance.

Combined with a traditional surge in demand over the winter months it has forced the Trust to open almost 50 more beds than planned, adding to its costs and preventing the full implementation of cost-cutting measures to meet the £15million of efficiency savings it needs to make this year.

Trust bosses also still need to reach an agreement with commissioners over the £2.5million they want to meet increased costs due to the rise in demand for emergency and urgent care, while there is still the risk it could be fined up to £650,000 for each case of superbug C Difficile it records over its target. Currently 67 cases have been reported compared to a target of 52.

Mr Tidman said they could still break even if they could reach agreement with commissioners on a number of issues and the successful implementation of a £2million savings package.

"I am confident we will get over the line and achieve a break even position. Discussions are ongoing with the PCT and Strategic Health Authority and I remain confident we will achieve a managed position and make sure the Trust is not adversely impacted on because of the demands we have had to meet this year."

Performance has also been affected with the Trust missing the four hour waiting target in A&E although other targets relating to cancer, stroke and waiting times have been hit.

Stewart Messer, the Trust's chief operating officer, said they were talking to commissioners about what more could be done to ease the pressure on the system.

"It's been a very challenging time but the nursing, medical and management teams have worked incredibly hard and their paramount concern has been about maintaining patient safety and quality on each site."

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