Hospital breaks even after £6m cash injection

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PORTSMOUTH’S hospital trust has broken even, despite predicting a £6m shortfall just last month.

The hospital trust, which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, had expected to end the 2010/11 financial year millions of pounds in the red.

But local health partners – including NHS Portsmouth and South Central Strategic Health Authority – have stumped up the £6m to plug the deficit at the last minute.

The cash is money in the local health economy that is being given to QA to help balance the books.

The hospital trust will not have to pay the money back.

Robert Toole, the finance director of the hospital trust, said: ‘At the end of this financial year, we will break even.

‘The reason we were facing a deficit is because we had to make £37m worth of efficiency savings during the year and we accounted for £31m. So we knew we had a £6m shortfall.

‘But in the last few weeks we have been in discussions with the strategic health authority and they have recognised that we’ve made £31m worth of savings and how we cannot find the remaining £6m.

‘We’ve now been given that £6m from the local health economy.’

At the end of the previous financial year (2009/10), the hospital trust ended with a £14.9m deficit.

With bosses anticipating another year-end deficit, it was feared the financial situation would hamper the hospital’s plans of becoming a foundation trust. The government has said all NHS trusts must become foundation trusts by 2014.

The status means trusts are free from government control and are in charge of their own finances and management. But to get this status, trusts have to prove they are financially stable.

However, despite breaking even this year, Portsmouth’s hospital trust has more financial challenges ahead and will have to make £30.5m worth of efficiency savings in 2011/12.

All trusts in the country have had to make savings this year and will have to continue to do so, as the NHS is no longer getting the generous income it was once used to.

QA bosses says balancing the books and breaking even again will be a massive task.

But the hospital trust is confident it can do it.

Mr Toole said: ‘It’s challenging but do-able.’