Blackpool Victoria Hospital reveals £24m deficit as it battles to control spending
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A big chunk of the overspend is due to difficulties in recruitment, with the hospital forced to pay higher agency fees to fill gaps in staffing levels.
Mark Brearley, director of finance at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, told a meeting of Blackpool Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Scrutiny Committee, the trust currently spends nearly £2m a day on providing care.
During the year to date, the trust, which runs Blackpool Victoria Hospital, has made savings of £15.6m, which is £700,000 ahead of target.
But there is still a projected deficit of £24.3m in this financial year.
It is proposed to make savings over the coming years by better recruitment, including a recent new cohort of international nurses.
Other measures aimed at getting finances back on track include controlling pay levels, improving income, using stock tracing systems to make savings, and incentives for department chiefs to stick to their spending budgets.
The meeting heard it was also hoped to make more use of virtual wards, enabling patients to be treated at home.
Mr Brearley said since coming out of the Covid pandemic many hospital trusts including Blackpool had had to reset their budgets.
Additional spending on staffing levels has also been required following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in January 2021 which warned of a lack of qualified medical staff.
Mr Brearley told the meeting a significant number of international medics including nurses had now been recruited, but was asked why it was difficult to recruit local people to the roles.
He said newly graduated doctors and nurses tended to stay in the cities where they had trained, and it was more challenging to persuade them to come to Blackpool.
He said: “Sometimes we have appointed a consultant to a post and before they take it up they have been offered another job elsewhere. But if they do start in the job at Blackpool, they generally stay.”
Karen Smith, director of adult services at the council and a director of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board, added: “We need to equip local people to train and take up those opportunities.”