Hospital concern over financial nosedive

IPSWICH Hospital is facing months of belt-tightening today after a nosedive in its financial fortunes.

IPSWICH Hospital is facing months of belt-tightening today after a nosedive in its financial fortunes.

The hospital lost £20,000 every day during June sparking worry among hospital bosses and putting the future of its bid to become a Foundation Trust in doubt.

During the month the hospital saw nine per cent fewer patients attending the Accident & Emergency department than expected, resulting in a loss of income of £85,000.

Meanwhile it overspent by £210,000 on wages, partly because it was paying staff overtime to meet national targets, and overspent by £966,000 on non-salary costs, such as drugs.

As a result the hospital recorded a loss of £602,000 in June, when it had hoped to raise a profit of £448,000. Meanwhile in April it made a profit and in May it broke even.

This leaves the hospital around £1.4million behind its plans to plans to pay back £7.3million of debts this year, a major disappointment for bosses who had hoped they had put dire financial worries behind them.

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The news comes as it emerged the hospital wastes £133,500 a year on food that is thrown away.

Andrew Reed, hospital chief executive, said: "A drop in non-elective activity has had a disappointing impact on the surplus the hospital made in the first quarter of 2008/09.

"Non-elective activity is notoriously unpredictable because the number of people falling ill is not easy to forecast. At the beginning of the year we set ambitious targets and unfortunately this unforeseen drop in activity has affected that.

"However, the hospital is still making a surplus and the year-to-date performance means we just have to keep management on track to continue the hospital's improved performance.”

He added that June was a bad month but that there could be a turnaround and that July figures looked to be significantly up.

But Mr Reed said: "However, the message for the remainder of the year and beyond it is that it's vital everybody in the hospital is vigilant to ensure we minimise our costs and maximise our income".

Prue Rush, spokeswoman for the former public and patient involvement forum at Ipswich Hospital, said: “It's a shame Foundation status will be delayed and they will have to try very hard to make sure the financial position doesn't impact on patient services.

“They are going to have to tighten their belt which is disappointing because they have worked very hard to sort their finances out and they were very excited about how they were doing.

“It's a sad day when they are in such a tight situation that they need patients to be poorly so they can be paid to look after them.”

Are you concerned about Ipswich Hospital's financial situation? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

£12.3million - the hospital's debt at the start of the financial year

£7.3million - the amount of the debt it hoped to pay back this financial year

£1.4million - the amount it is currently behind in its plan to pay back the debt

£602,000 - the loss the hospital made in June

£448,000 - the profit it had hoped to make in June

£1.1m - the amount the hospital overspent in June

Food wastage

IPSWICH Hospital throws away 14.7per cent of the meals it serves, costing it £133,500 a year, figures showed today.

The Heath Road hospital was the worst performing hospital in the East of England when comparing food wastage rates.

Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge wasted 12pc of its food, Southend Hospital 11pc, the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital 9pc and Northampton Hospital just 3.5pc.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital said: "We send a choice of food to each ward each meal time to ensure we give our patients choice, particularly those who have been admitted on that day and have not had the opportunity to fill out a request card.

"This inevitably results in some waste. We also ensure we send more meals than patients to each ward in case some patients have larger appetites."

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