THE cash-strapped trust which runs Portsmouth’s main hospital has asked the government for a £7.5m loan.
Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, asked the Department of Health (DH) for the money last month.
The trust has been struggling to balance its books and prove it is ready to gain Foundation Trust (FT) status.
The loan will be used to prove PHT is financially stable in order to gain the status – which if achieved would give it more say on what services it offers.
Being able to balance the books is seen as a key requirement for hospitals if they are to be given the status.
The News reported in September how the trust was then wrestling with a deficit of £6.9m. The trust said it thought it would make a surplus of £4.3m when the financial year ends at the end of March. But recent figures show PHT is in a deficit of £2.4m – and predict the trust will just about break even.
Hospitals that achieve Foundation Trust status are expected to deliver a surplus on income and expenditure equivalent to one per cent of turnover. For PHT this would mean making a surplus of £4m.
A PHT spokesman said: ‘This loan has been requested to improve the trust’s short term cash position.
‘The amount of cash a trust holds is one of the key measures assessed as part of the FT application process. Therefore it is not unusual for NHS trusts to agree loans to improve their liquidity positions prior to becoming FTs.’
The trust is still waiting to find out if it can get the money. If it is granted the loan, the money will be used to give PHT greater flexibility in managing timings of some of its larger monthly payments. The loan would be paid back over seven years through annual instalments.
The overspend has been put down to a surge in patients going into A&E.
Some money has been clawed back by hiring more permanent staff and using fewer agency staff, and getting extra money for additional work carried out.
The spokesman added: ‘While a year end break-even position would be a good achievement, especially considering where the trust was financially earlier in the year, it will need to demonstrate as part of its FT application how it is going to further improve its financial performance over coming years.’
LOAN MONEY MUST BE USED FOR PATIENT CARE
IF MONEY is given then it should be used to improve patient care.
That’s the message from Mike Hancock, MP for Portsmouth South.
He said: ‘I hope the trust gets the loan.
‘As long as the money is used to protect patient care and planned operations go ahead, then it is good.
‘The trust is carrying so much debt at the moment that money should be used for patient care, and not bailing out the administration there.’
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North, said the trust needs to bring in more income, like others have.