THE ‘green shoots of recovery’ have been spotted at the cash-strapped local health trust – despite them running up a current deficit of £23.8 million – £7.4m worse than planned for this financial year.
The announcement was made by interim director of finance Colin Gentile to members of the Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust.
Mr Gentile put the news down to a major crackdown on the use of temporary staff and maximising income from planned surgery cases.
“We are now spending £45,000 a week less on agency nurses compared to the position in August and this represents a substantial saving,” he told a trust board meeting.
“We were spending £110,000 a week on the highest charging agency but this week that was down to £30,000.”
For temporary or locum doctors he said the trust had set a target of reducing expenditure by £700,000 but this was now on target to achieve an £800,000 saving.
“I’m expecting to see a small impact for September and then a pick up for the October figures and to see some green shoots on nurse and locum expenditure,” he said.
He added that the trust was also re-organising its use of operating theatre time to put its elective surgery programme back on plan, bringing in an additional £2.4m.
However he added: “Cash continues to be an issue and we are putting in an application for additional working capital so that we have the liquidity to carry on.”
At the heart of the problem facing the trust is the issue of patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but with nowhere to go, possibly because the care package they need in the community isn’t in place.
Figures released by the trust for the year from January show anywhere between 30 and 97 patients a week waiting in hospital due to delayed transfer in care, costing the Trust some £2.5m in lost income.
These patients could be occupying beds that could be used for cases in A&E or for those waiting for surgery.