Shropshire Star

Health board faces challenges to meet £12 million deficit target

Powys Teaching Health Board finance chiefs have revealed that they need to make savings to bring their budget deficit down to £12 million by the end of March.

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At a Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) board meeting on Wednesday, November 29, members listened to details of changes to the 2023/2024 budget.

They need to be made following a major cash injection of more than £460 million by the Welsh Government in October to bolster NHS services nationwide.

The extra funding is needed to deal with the inflationary costs, energy, and the legacy of Covid 19.

As part of the financial stimulus by the Welsh Government, PTHB has been given £18.3 million in additional funding – bringing down its projected deficit to £15.2 million.

Initially the health board had been expecting to post a £33.5 million deficit on its £390 million 2023/2024 budget.

In November, the Welsh Government told health boards across the country that that they would still need to find £65 million worth of savings this financial year.

The target for PTHB is to find £3.2 million in savings to bring their total deficit down to £12 million – which is described as the “target control total.”

Health boards are expected to deliver a break-even position over a three-year period.

PTHB interim chief executive Hayley Thomas said: “This is at a scale the health board has never been asked to achieve before.

“We wanted to make sure that any decisions we are taking we are minimising and mitigating impact on patients as best we can and try to make sure that staff welfare is a key consideration.”

The £3.2 million in savings PTHB need to find will come from several different sources.

Around £1.6 million will come from Welsh Government reduced expenditure and slippage as well as finding savings on PTHB projects.

A further £800,000 will be found from a VAT rebate and dental contract “under performance”.

This leaves £800,000 described as the savings “stretch” which will come from finding more overspends in Welsh Government funding, reducing agency staff, continuing healthcare, and commissioned services expenditure.

Director of finance Pete Hopgood said: “We have done some great work to identify areas we can influence and action we can take which puts in relatively good position to deliver.”

An added problem for PTHB is that cuts in neighbouring health authority budgets could also impact patients from Powys.

This is because PTHB commissions many patient services outside the county.

Ms Thomas explained that all these health boards are going through the same process.

Ms Thomas said “I want to give assurance to the board that we’ve started discussions with our neighbouring health boards and trusts to understand their position.

“Once decisions are taken, we will need to understand that impact for our population, recognising how care is both delivered in Powys and commissioned across the border.

“That assessment of neighbouring plans is really important.”

The revised budget was noted and approved unanimously.