Hospital vows to balance the books

HOSPITAL chiefs today pledged they would win the battle to balance the books at Ipswich Hospital - and achieve improvements for patients at the same time.

HOSPITAL chiefs today pledged they would win the battle to balance the books at Ipswich Hospital - and achieve improvements for patients at the same time.

Despite facing one of the toughest years in the history of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, the hospital's management vowed to make the changes necessary to ensure its rating improved.

During the trust's annual meeting in Ipswich yesterday, its chairman Christine Smart said 2004/2005 was “one of the most challenging in the history of the Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust” but she insisted that the problems faced by the trust could be overcome within the next few years.

She said: “The years ahead will not be easy or without tears. Our key challenge must be to balance the books.”

And Andrew Reed, the trust's new chief executive, added: “We need to ensure that we manage our finances as tightly as we can.

“With a recovery plan in place at the moment I am confident that we will mitigate the financial challenges before us this year.”

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In 2004/2005 the hospital trust had a deficit of £5.4million, exacerbated by having to spend another £1million to pay for an overspend in the previous year.

The trust also slipped from a two star rating to one star in the annual NHS Performance Ratings, largely because it missed targets for financial management and in ensuring that 98per cent of Accident and Emergency patients were seen within four hours.

Mrs Smart said the latter target was missed only “by a whisker” and the hospital says that in every month since the end of May it has achieved the four-hour target.

During 2004/2005 the hospital treated 27,253 elective patients and 32,958 emergency patients.

It has set itself the target of reducing the number of “delayed discharges” - those people who stay in hospital longer than they would have to if they could be cared for elsewhere.

Mr Reed said: “As a significant contributor to our future success we must ensure that delayed discharges have to be speedily transferred to other parts of the care sector and we must reduce the number of cancelled operations.

“We must reduce lengths of stay in order to ensure we are getting best use of our beds.”

As part of its action plan the hospital has pledged to modernise its service delivery, cut down on cancelled operations and improve its facilities through Private Funding Initiatives.

Weblink: www.ipswichhospital.org.uk

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