Ipswich Hospital faces £22.5m deficit by end of financial year

Ipswich Hospital

Ipswich Hospital - Credit: Su Anderson

Ipswich Hospital could finish this financial year with a deficit of more than £22.5million – £4m higher than where bosses hoped it would be.

High numbers of emergency admissions and “bed-blockers” – patients well enough to leave the hospital but who don’t have suitable community care in place – have contributed to the problem, according to papers which will be discussed by the trust board on Thursday.

Last night the hospital stressed work was taking place to improve the financial outlook, with a number of initiatives to reduce spending, including on agency staff.

A hospital spokeswoman said: “The board will have a very full and comprehensive discussion on Thursday and members of the public are invited to come along.

“We are facing a challenging financial outlook, like many other hospitals, and there are lots of things to explain why.”

The spokeswoman said the trust had a “hugely busy” summer which meant the hospital had to open up more areas to care for people, all of which pushed the costs up.

She added: “We do have a very strong commitment to make sure that we stay within the forecast that we set up at the beginning of the year and make sure we continue to be able to give the people we care for the very best health care in a way that is financially sustainable.”

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The initial plan was for a deficit of £19.8m, which was later downgraded to £18.5m. However, trust board papers have shown the “likely case” is that the deficit come the end of the financial year will be £22.6m, with the worst case scenario being £25.1m.

Bed-blocking has been identified as one of the issues affecting the current position.

The delays are caused by a patient being well enough to leave hospital, but there is nowhere for them to go, such as a community setting.

The hospital, along with West Suffolk Hospital and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, are to head up community healthcare services from private company Serco in September.

Community healthcare services provide vital help to around 650,000 people in Suffolk, such as community nursing, specialist nursing, community hospitals, speech and language therapy, dental services and specialist children’s services.

Ipswich Hospital chief executive Nick Hulme has previously stated he hopes the move will lead to a more joined-up approach between the hospital and community services.

Hospitals in the East of England worked up a total deficit of £259m in 2014-2015, a 63% rise compared to the previous financial year.