Action is being taken to balance the books at Sheffield’s hospitals after their finances dipped into the red to the tune of £1.8 million.
A report to a meeting of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals’ board of directors said the trust was in a ‘disappointing financial position’ and there were ‘significant risks’ it would not meet its target to make £26m in efficiency savings this year.
The document revealed several departments were causing particular concern over their spending - including geriatric and stroke medicine, obstetrics, general surgery and orthopaedics.
Work is being carried out to ‘address issues in the most challenged directorates’, but the report added: “There are clearly still major issues to address given the further requirement for efficiency savings each year.”
In May the trust recorded a deficit of £1.8m, directors were told.
“It is still relatively early in the financial year but this clearly represents a disappointing start,” the report said.
Neil Priestley, the trust’s director of finance, said hospital chiefs still hoped to make a ‘small financial surplus’ this year.
“Every year the Government requires us to make a saving which is determined nationally by the Department of Health,” he said.
“By focusing on ensuring we provide the right care in the right place and delivered by the right people we have broadly met this target every year and plan to do so again this year. Our turnover is approaching £1bn and we are aiming to make a saving of circa £26m.
“We are very slightly behind where we planned to be at this stage of the year but this is not unusual and we can assure members of the public that plans are in place to ensure we break even or make a small financial surplus again this year.”
He said previous surpluses had meant investments could be made, including spending £1.5m on extra nurses in response to pressure to increase staffing levels, and a new critical care unit at the Royal Hallamshire hospital.
Meanwhile a national report by the King’s Fund think tank said one in four finance directors of NHS trusts expect to overspend their budget this year.
The Fund warned that ‘cracks are beginning to appear in NHS performance as a result of the growing financial pressures and rising demand’.