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Shropshire hospitals in plea for £4 million bailout

Telford | News | Published:

Cash-strapped Shropshire hospitals have been forced to ask for a £4 million bailout to help make sure they break even by the end of the financial year.

The cash boost means the trust which runs hospitals in Shrewsbury and Telford will not now have to go cap in hand to the Treasury to ask for a long-term loan.

Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust board heard the NHS Trust Development Authority had offered £4 million on the basis that the trust would be able to balance its budget by the end of March.

The news comes as figures are released that reveal both Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and Princess Royal Hospital are continuing to miss a key target for cutting waiting times in accident and emergency departments.

Finance bosses had been expecting to be almost £6 million in the red this year.

But board members at the trust heard an agreement with Shropshire Clinical Commissioning Group to guarantee how much it was going to pay for patients to be treated, coupled with "opportunities" for savings, would cover the deficit and balance the books.

Finance director Neil Nisbet warned there was a risk the trust still might not break even, because it was impossible to predict costs of unforeseen events like flu outbreaks.

He said: "Clearly we are aiming to deliver on that but they know there is a potential risk. The risk that concerns me most is the unpredictability in our activity over the rest of the year."

The trust is currently reviewing the future of services at both Telford and Shrewsbury hospitals, including the role of its A&E departments.

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Board member Dennis Jones said the bailout would not solve the underlying financial problems at the trust, which has been running at a loss over several years.

The hospital trust today said it was getting close to reaching the target of seeing at least 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.

It has managed to hit the target in some weeks but overall has not achieved it across a complete quarter so far this financial year.

Chief operating officer Debbie Kadum said: "It will be 94 per cent by the year end, which is better than last year. If we could open another ward we could but we don't have that option in front of us."

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