A CARROT and stick approach has been adopted by NHS Improvement to improve the running of Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust (WAHT).
Last month the Trust, which runs the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch, was offered £13.1million in extra money from the Sustainability and Transformation Fund – but only if it cut an additional £3.7million from it’s projected deficit of £51.4million for the 2016/17 financial year.
In addition to the £13.1million windfall the Trust would no longer be liable for fines for failing to hit a number of targets including referral to treatment times, diagnostics, 62 day cancer waits, the A&E four hour target (which it hasn’t hit for well over 12 months) and ambulance handovers, although fines for failing to hit the two week cancer target for a first appointment would remain in place.
This is significant as the fines imposed by local GP-led clinical commissioning groups are running at such a high level they’ve been capped.
The deadline for agreeing to the release of the money was June 16 and interim chairman John Burbeck took the decision to accept the offer, asking the board of WAHT to endorse his move at their meeting on Wednesday (July 6).
However in a report to this meeting interim director of finance Rob Cooper warned of a number of issues which could affect the Trust’s ability to hit the new figure.
He told members the number of cash-earning operations being carried out were below plan and that they were behind on their Cost Improvement Programme, with a potential shortfall of £6.8 million.
In addition, with a number of new consultant vacancies they could end up paying for expensive agency doctors to cover.
However he said that with a current deficit of £10.4million WAHT was broadly on target for the year if it could deal with those outstanding issues.although they were still waiting to hear what penalties would be imposed should the Trust fail to find the additional £3.7million savings.