A £38.5 million deficit but Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust boast improved A&E waiting times

Peterborough City Hospital, Bretton. Photo: Peterborough Telegraph

Peterborough City Hospital, Bretton. Photo: Peterborough Telegraph

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Despite a large £38.5 million deficit over the past year, there was positive news for the trust which runs hospitals in Peterborough and Stamford over Accident and Emergency waiting times and staff recruitment.

For the past three months the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has reached the 95 per cent target for getting people through its Emergency Department (ED) inside four hours.

Although the Trust still fell well short of the target throughout the past 12 months, with the figure only reaching 85.5 per cent, its annual report showed success at meeting its targets for cancer waiting times, diagnostic waiting times and 18-week referral to treatment waiting times.

Further good news came in staff recruitment, with the percentage of vacancies reducing from 15 to 10 per cent, and nursing vacancies expected to fall to six per cent in the next year from its current level which is above 10 per cent.

The number of ED consultants has also increased to 10, a figure the Trust’s chief executive Stephen Graves described as “gobsmacking.”

However, there is no escaping the huge deficit which continues to hover over the Trust, of which a large part is due to PFI payments.

The deficit comes despite for a third year running the Trust making £13 million in efficiency savings, while a reduction in locums to fill staff shortages is expected to further help the situation.

The Department of Health provided £29.9 million of funding in the past year. This year, the Trust will have to apply to the government department for continued funding rather than have it automatically granted, but there is confidence that this will not prove to be an issue.

Mark Bush, lead governor, responding to the annual report, said: “There is no doubt the NHS as a whole continues to go through really difficult times.

“Peterborough City Hospital is a tremendous building full of high tech, modern equipment and dedicated staff. And Stamford Hospital is an asset.

“We remain concerned about the deficit, particularly the uncertainty of further funding, but happy with the focus on efficiency savings.

“It’s uneasy to to see the considerable use of agency staff, but I applaud the recruitment campaign.”

Mr Bush said urgent care was another area of concern, but he was pleased with the improvement at the ED.

He added: “The governors have every confidence in the Trust board.”

The Trust’s successes, which were highlighted at the meeting, included being ranked in top 20 per cent of hospitals in the country in the Cancer Patient Experience survey and the Obstetrics and Gynaecology team being ranked fourth highest in the country by trainees in a survey.

Conversely, the Trust has had its share of difficulties in the past 12 months, with bed shortages and flooding at Peterborough City Hospital notable issues.

In addition, the Trust sent a letter of apology in the last year to the family of Kayleigh Compton who died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital two days after leaving the city hospital in February 2013.

The letter apologised for gaps in Kayleigh’s medical records, lack of regular weighing and recording of fluid intake and output, failing to ensure a call bell was within easy reach and agreed that a “do not attempt resuscitation” form had been incorrectly completed.

Responding to a question from a member of the audience at the meeting this evening (Thursday, July 23) Neil Doverty, the chief operating officer, said the 600 cancelled operations there had been was not acceptable.

The evening, though, did end on a positive note about the work by the Trust with a presentation on the care given to patients with dementia.

Speaking after the meeting Mr Graves, who took up the post as chief executive in September last year, echoed the feelings of cautious optimism which had been the theme of the evening.

He said: “While we are not where we want to be on the quality stats, overall the data is pretty positive. We are delivering against most of our targets

“We always want to get better but we’re in a pretty good place.”

Mr Graves also travelled to London this week to meet Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson, North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara and North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay to discuss their concerns about how the city hospital handles complaints.

On his meeting with the MPs he said: “I think they were reassured I was taking it seriously.”

He added that the percentage of complaints responded to within 30 days had risen from 40-50 per cent in the past year to over 70 per cent in the previous two months.