Deficit at ‘underfunded’ Peterborough City Hospital trust hits £60m but 800 new staff members recruited

Peterborough City Hospital
Peterborough City Hospital
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The deficit at the trust which runs Peterborough City Hospital rose above £60m last year - a £15 million overspend on its target.

North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which is responsible for running Peterborough, Hinchingbrooke and Stamford and Rutland hospitals, was in deficit by £61.5 million in 2018/19.

The trust claims it is “underfunded” for the population it serves and that the deficit target it has been offered for this financial year is “unachievable”.

However, there was better news on the recruitment front with more than 800 new staff hired in the last year.

Of those, the majority have elected to be retained.

Speaking at the trust’s public board meeting in Stamford on Tuesday, assistant director of strategy Keith Reynolds said the financial and performance figures were “gloomy” and point to a “challenging year ahead”.

He said: “Our system is financially challenged, and although the recent increase in national funding is welcome, the trust remains significantly underfunded based on the population we serve.

“The trust currently has a deficit of £61.5 million for the financial year 2018/19, which means we have overspent by £15 million against our government regulated and agreed control total of £46.5 million.

“We plan to deliver a £7 million year-on-year improvement which will reduce the deficit down to £54.5 million, starting with this current financial year 2019/20.

“However, our current government regulator control total offer for 2019/20 is only £35.3 million, which we believe to be unachievable.

“Until that figure can be agreed all other matters remain in the balance.”

A control total is an annual figure agreed upon by each NHS trust in advance of any funding help from the Government, and represents a series of strict and usually non-negotiable conditions set out by NHS Improvement, NHS England and the Department of Health.

Control totals are agreed in advance with the government regulator and trusts are then expected to remain within the figure agreed. But more than a third of NHS Trusts in the UK are failing to meet their control totals.

Speaking about the positive news on recruitment, trust chairman Rob Hughes said: “It is very pleasing to know that the time and effort we’re putting into training these people is benefitting us when we retain them.

“March has been a great month for staff recruitment with 20 new nurses starting their respective induction programmes.

“In addition, 11 overseas nurses started their Objective Structured Clinical Examination preparation programme from which we have had excellent pass rates in the past.

“Steps are now firmly in place for our next round of recruitment for Nursing Training Associates, who will hopefully find rewarding careers within our organisation.”

Chief executive Caroline Walker added: “I received a letter from Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP assuring me that our 500 EU staff are vital to the smooth running of the three hospitals in the trust.

“While there has been no decision yet about Brexit, I have been assured that our EU staff are safe and that they will continue to make the UK their home after the EU exit arrangements have been finalised.”

Joanne Bennis, chief nurse and executive director, said: “Nutritional screening, waiting times, cancer care, two week waiting times, referral to treatment and diagnostic access performances all fell in March 2019, compared to February figures.

“Of particular concern has been the Frail and Elderly Care Unit at Peterborough, which failed its achievement target (98 per cent), gaining just 91 per cent performance.

“While this is very disappointing, the overall performance figures for the trust were slightly up against our system position (annual) at 80.1 per cent, compared to 78.2 per cent in February.

“Across the three hospitals in the trust, 21 wards achieved all three targets set, two wards achieved two out of three targets, but six wards achieved only one target, and thee wards failed to achieve any of their targets at all.

“The trust did achieve 91 per cent performance for complaints that were responded to within the 30 working days requirement.

“Overall, performance has decreased from 98.8 per cent in February (920 patients out of 931), down to 96.5 per cent in March (818 patients out of 848).”