Hospitals face £8.6m emergency overspend

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Overspending on emergency hospital admissions in Sheffield could spiral to more than £8million as wards continue to come under strain from high patient numbers, it has emerged.

The NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group - the city’s guardian of health spending - said attendances at the Northern General Hospital’s A&E unit were 1,345 higher than planned, according to the most recent figures.

In the group’s financial report for July, it was revealed that if the rate of admissions continues, the level of overspending could rise to £8.6m.

Accident and emergency wards across the country are dealing with high patient numbers, and the issue is being blamed on a variety of possible causes, from Government cuts and an ageing population, to low public confidence in out-of-hours care and the NHS 111 telephone helpline.

Idris Griffiths, chief operating officer at the clinical commissioning group, said: “In April and May, the cost of emergency admissions to hospital was eight per cent higher than we expected, and the cost of attendances at the A&E department were six per cent higher than we planned.

“If this level of activity continued for the remainder of the year this would represent a significant financial pressure.

“However, the CCG has made financial provision for variations in activity and has been able to fund this activity.”

Ms Griffiths added: “We have an ambitious programme, called Right First Time, to transform urgent care in Sheffield, and there is good evidence that what we have done so far is making a difference to patients.

“However, we continue to face pressures in terms of the numbers of patients in the system who require emergency care, in line with lots of other CCGs across the country.

“Notwithstanding the recent high emergency care activity Sheffield CCG are continuing to work with our partners in the health and social care system in Sheffield, through the Right First Time programme, to ensure that patients are treated and supported when they need urgent care, at home wherever possible and with hospital stays no longer than necessary.

“This will help people, especially older people, recover as quickly as possible and remain independent.

“We have invested significantly over the last few years to expand the capacity of community services and are commissioning more care from GP practices to help us secure this aim.”