NHS finances: Great Western Hospital comes out of enforcement action
NHS Improvement (NHSI), which oversees foundation trusts, has announced that Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been removed from its breech of licence status and taken out of enforcement action over its finances.
‘Enforcement’ allows NHSI to investigate a hospital, demand changes and, if needed, impose fines.
A GWH statement said: “This is a positive step forward for the Trust and the result of nearly three years of hard work by staff at all levels."
“By the end of this financial year, we will have saved around £40 million, which is a significant achievement. As a result, we are now in a better position to face the ongoing financial challenges while continuing to provide good care to patients.”
However, finances are never quite as simple in the NHS as they sound. Last week's board meeting was told that although there is currently a gap of just £2.4 million in the hospital's present financial position, they could face a cash crisis by the turn of the year.
NHSI say that GWH has to keep £1.7m in the bank - and they have nearly breached that limit. The board was told that some suppliers were now demanding payment up front or within days - as opposed to the normal 30-day wait for payment.
A 'recovery plan' is being mounted to close the £2.4m gap - this may involve freezing non-medical staff vacancies.
As marlborough,news has reported before, one of the main problems iemains the amount spent on agency staff - especially on nurses who have been very difficult to recruit. At the end of September, the total staff bill for the year to date was £3,408,000 above budget. But year to date agency costs were £6,359,000 above the budgeted figure.
One uncertainty has arisen with the tax authorities' ruling that Wiltshire Health and Care - the LLP set up by Great Western, Salisbury and Royal United Hospitals to run the county's community care for adults - is liable for VAT. Who will pay this is not yet clear, but at the moment it adds a £550,000 risk to GWH's financial position.