Ipswich: Ipswich Hospital referred to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over financial concerns
17:14 24 July 2014
Ipswich Hospital has been referred to the Health Secretary over financial concerns, it can be revealed.
The hospital, which has long battled debts worth millions of pounds, was one of 19 NHS trusts flagged up to Jeremy Hunt for failing to meet its statutory break-even duty for the last financial year.
The hospital’s cumulative deficit was £3.3m at the end of 2013/14, down slightly from £3.4m in 2012/13.
Bosses at the Heath Road site last night insisted plans are in place to plug the financial black hole, return to a “sustainable surplus” and invest in services.
But they admitted a statutory break-even point – an assessment of its finances over a five-year period – is not expected until 2017.
It comes after the hospital was awarded £7.5m in bailout funds in January for proving to NHS England it was capable of making savings and becoming financially secure and sustainable.
It prompted the trust’s management to issue a bullish assessment of its finances following nine months of questions over spiralling debts. Before the cash injection, the trust was shouldering a deficit of £7.2m.
Last night, an Ipswich Hospital spokesman said the trust’s cash debt – in contrast to its cumulative deficit – had been cleared by the end of 2013/14. It was £3.3m at the end of the previous financial year.
In a statement, she said: “Breakeven duty is a performance measure of what our cumulative surplus/deficit is over a five-year period.
“This shows financial sustainability and how sustainable the Trust is. We have, for a number of years now, not met this duty although we have broken even.
“We have plans to return to surplus in future years but do not anticipate reaching a breakeven point until 2017. This does not represent a ‘debt’. When we did generate deficits we had to take out a cash loan to ensure we could pay our bills.
“This was re-payable over five years and we have repaid the final instalment of this last year. We are no longer in cash debt hence debt free.”
She added: “The key focus for improving the finances of (Ipswich Hospital) is to return to sustainable surplus and avoid requiring a cash loan going forward.
“We have plans to generate surpluses in the future and we expect to retain the cash from these surpluses for investment to support the improvement to services at (Ipswich Hospital).
“In pursuing this we will naturally achieve breakeven duty and be recognised as having a sustainable picture.”
Meanwhile, Ipswich Hospital will today hold its AGM.