Hospital's missing millions

HEALTH workers were hit with another bombshell today after it was announced that the financial problem at Ipswich Hospital is £7m worse than first thought.

HEALTH workers were hit with another bombshell today after it was announced that the financial problem at Ipswich Hospital is £7m worse than first thought.

At a crisis conference this morning hospital chief executive Andrew Reed revealed that the hospital's total debt now stands at £11.9m following another massive overspend this year.

He said: “Our financial problem is much bigger than we originally thought, due in large part to a shortfall in expected income from a variety of sources.

“This is a major blow to the hospital at a time when our performance in other areas is improving, but we want to be absolutely honest and get everything out on the table.”


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Today's news means that the 105 job cuts announced by the hospital last month could now be a much higher figure.

Just three weeks ago the hospital were hoping that they had not overspent in the 05/06 financial year and that they would, this year (06/07), be able to concentrate on paying back the £4.9m debts from previous years.

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However, when the final figures for 05/06 were worked out it emerged that the hospital had actually overspent by a further £7m during the year, creating a total debt of £11.9m.

Mr Reed said: “It is absolutely vital that we take tight control of our finances as quickly as possible, and it is clear that our plan for financial recovery will have to go further and faster.

“We will continue to do everything we can to minimise the impact on jobs.”

A ward closure and changes to children's services, community midwifery and the intensive care unit have already been planned, despite Mr Reed admitting they were “high-risk” proposals. Now even more services could be under threat.

The hospital have called in an independent review team to help them understand the reasons why the end-of-year financial figure was so much worse than predicted.

They are expected to complete their investigations in June.

Ipswich Hospital's debts today stand at £11.9m - £7m worse than originally thought.

Much of this is thought to be down to problems with the way the hospital collects money from other organisations who buy services from them.

The independent review will look at these procedures and help the hospital work out ways in which they can be tightened up.

The hospital's dire financial situation is not helped by the problems also being suffered by the Suffolk East Primary Care Trusts who buy services from them.

The PCTs have a debt of £19.3m, despite underspending by £3.3m in the last financial year.

They are also having to make cuts to services like the Bartlet Hospital in a bid to achieve financial balance.

Until now, Ipswich has fared well compared to other hospitals in the country. In some places up to 100 posts have had to be cut and nationally, up to 9,000 posts are expected to be axed over the coming months.

WHO OWES WHAT?

Ipswich Hospital: debts from previous years - £4.9m, debts from 05/06 - £7m. TOTAL: £11m

Suffolk East PCTs: TOTAL: £19.3m

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