Ipswich hospital million-pound debt

IPSWICH Hospital is today £1.3m in debt, just four months into the financial year.A busy summer and an increasing need to use agency staff have piled the pressure on the hospital's already over-stretched budget.

IPSWICH Hospital is today £1.3m in debt, just four months into the financial year.

A busy summer and an increasing need to use agency staff have piled the pressure on the hospital's already over-stretched budget.

Between April and July the hospital overspent by £539,000 on wages and by £641,000 on non-pay related items like drugs.

Other financial commitments have brought the total overspend to £1.3m.

Jan Rowsell, spokeswoman for the hospital, said: "Because we've been so busy we've had to bring in additional staff from nursing and medical agencies to help us achieve our targets.

"We've also had to ask existing staff to do more work and pay them accordingly.

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"Caring for more people has also meant increased spending on things like medicines and prosthesis."

Capital expenditure at the hospital was also over-committed by £2.1m at the end of July.

The trust are due to receive £5.4m in grants from the government in 2004/2005, but the amount of money it needs to invest in capital projects during the year already stands at £7.4m.

This is due to the opening of the new day case theatres.

Ms Rowsell said the hospital will be doing everything they can to achieve financial balance.

She said: "There will be very careful management and a shared approach from people throughout the hospital.

"It's important to point out that it is still very early in the financial year and we will be working very closely together to look at how we can recoup the money."

"We will be looking at ways to encourage people to work for the NHS and reducing the need to bring in agency staff."

The problems at Ipswich Hospital are part of a wider situation affecting the whole of the health system in east Suffolk, which is currently around £11m in the red.

Ms Rowsell said: "The NHS in east Suffolk is in a very challenging position and the hospital has a very important part to play in helping to achieve financial recovery."

What do you should be done about the hospital's debt problem? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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