Ipswich: Cash spent on temporary and agency staff at Ipswich Hospital could be cut as the trust looks to make major savings

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Archant

The amount of money spent on frontline workers at cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital could be slashed as the trust looks to make major savings to rectify its bleak financial position.

Bosses at the Heath Road site stressed that directly employed staff are not in the firing line but, with a deficit of £5.2million just six months into the financial year, the site has to be more efficient and savings must be made.

At their monthly meeting yesterday, the hospital’s board of directors were assured that there was still time to recover the situation, but that savings had to be made and “cost improvement plans” had been reviewed.

Among the measures being looked into to cut costs is better utilisation of services, such as theatres, more prudent purchasing of equipment and products and a reduction in the amount of money spent on temporary and agency staff.

Paul Scott, director of finance and performance at the hospital, said: “We have recognised where we can be more efficient.

“We spend £12m on temporary and agency staff so we would expect to see that come down but the number of employed people we expect to stay the same.”

The type of people who are brought in as agency staff include locum doctors and specialists, who are drafted in if cover is needed for employed staff.

Most Read

Mr Scott added that the current financial challenges facing Ipswich Hospital were not just being faced by the trust but by NHS trusts across the country.

He said: “It is serious but we are not alone. We are very much on it and we are showing improvements.”

The £5.2m deficit being shouldered by Ipswich Hospital has jumped from £4.6m last month, when the board was told a loan of £3m may have to be taken out to plug the trust’s deepening financial black hole, but that it would be a last resort.

A spokeswoman for Ipswich Hospital added: “We have had some long-running financial challenges but we are determined not only to grasp that but to tackle it and make sure we have a sustainable future.

“With appropriate action, we should achieve a good financial position.

“The message is that we are on the case.”