The trust which manages Lincolnshire hospitals has admitted that it could be £75 million in the red by the end of the financial year if its financial performance doesn’t drastically improve.
As reported last week, United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT) was placed in financial special measures by NHS Improvement after it marked its year-to-date deficit as £30.7 million.
The trust has said this is predicted to rise to £75 million by the end of the year.
Just five years ago, ULHT was marking a £124,000 surplus. Since the positive bottom line in 2012/13, the trust has fallen deeper and deeper into alarming deficit.
- 2012/13 – £124k surplus
- 2013/14 – £25.8 m deficit
- 2014/15 – £15.1m deficit
- 2015/16 – £56.9m deficit
- 2016/17 – 56.8m deficit
- 2017/18 – £30.7m to date with predicted £75m deficit by the year end if not turned around
ULHT, which runs hospitals in Lincoln, Boston and Grantham, has said that under-efficiency and reliance on agency staff is a significant factor in the challenges facing local hospitals.
Deputy Chief Executive Kevin Turner said previously: “We know that there are many factors which are causing the deficit, which include a lot of our services being less efficient than they could be, staffing gaps that are routinely filled with more expensive temporary (agency) staff, and the challenges of providing services over a large geographical area. Our recovery plans will need to address these factors and more.”
How much is being spent on agency staff?
The trust made headlines in the past for its significant reliance on agency staff. These are drafted in from private companies when the trust is unable to fill shifts with full or part time employees.
In response to the issue, the trust has hosted a number of targeted recruitment drives to attract qualified professionals to the county.
For the first quarter of this year alone, the trust has spent a total of £7.5 million on agency staffing to fill rotas, and £9.9 million during the financial year to date.
Current vacancies are listed as follows:
- Registered Nurses is 241.38 whole time equivalent vacancies – 15.21%
- Unregistered nurses/healthcare support is at 41.69 whole time equivalent vacancies – 10.43%
The trust added that this is largely the route of agency spending.
Underfunding a ‘national disgrace’, says MP
Lincoln’s newly elected Labour MP Karen Lee reacted to the news, stating that the challenges will “impact on hardworking staff right across the organisation.”
She also placed failures within the NHS firmly at the door of the current government, calling for the public service to receive better funding and for NHS workers to be “properly paid”.
Karen Lee said in a column published on The Lincolnite: “The people of Lincoln, who, in my experience as MP and as a nurse, value and appreciate the care they receive from our NHS, know how hard everyone within it works to deliver a good service in difficult times.
“The fact that our NHS is severely underfunded and understaffed is a national disgrace.
“The current government claim to have invested in the NHS but this is smoke and mirrors, they give with one hand and take with the other.
“The net result is that the NHS continues to be underfunded while they promise tax cuts for those on high incomes and give over £1 billion to the DUP to prop up their failing government. Their priorities are clear and the NHS does not appear to be one of them.”