St George’s working with Monitor to address our deficit
NHS finances have been extensively documented in the media. St George’s, like many other trusts, has encountered a deficit. In April we reported a £16m deficit for 2014/15 (on a turnover of £740m) having planned a small surplus.
As a major trauma centre, we have been particularly affected by the operational pressures that have been seen nationally.
During the winter we were faced with unprecedented demand from very ill patients and fixed capacity in terms of beds and operating theatres. This resulted in the cancellation of planned operations and longer waiting times for some patients. Financially, it led to reduced income from planned activity combined with increased costs of staff and supplies.
Our high expenditure and loss of income, together with changes in NHS funding, pushed our figures in the wrong direction. Actions are underway to address those issues. We have: stepped up our monitoring of costs and activity; established additional measures to limit non-essential spending; cut temporary staff costs; and reviewed our capital expenditure. These are alongside an already challenging cost improvement programme of £43m.
As a foundation trust, our activities are regulated by Monitor (the NHS regulator). We will be working together to examine how and why our finances have declined, and identify possible solutions. The regulator also wants to understand why we have not sustained our progress in treating patients more promptly.
We have a challenging time ahead of us. We are working hard to get ourselves back on a firm financial footing and have confirmed a series of safeguarding checks to sit alongside our saving plans to ensure that efficiencies will not compromise the care we give. Patient safety remains paramount.