Dorset County Hospital losing half a million pounds per month

Ros Kayes outside Dorset County Hospital

Ros Kayes outside Dorset County Hospital

First published in Campaigns Dorset Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Dorset County Hospital is haemorrhaging an average of half-a-million pounds a month.

Figures in the hospital trust’s annual report showed a deficit of £1.84million for the last financial year of April 2008 to March 2009.

Hospital chiefs have been faced with losses of an average of £0.5m a month while battling a predicted deficit of £7.5million by the end of the financial year.

The report reveals the full extent of the trust’s financial decisions before the formal intervention by the independent regulator Monitor and the resignations of chief executive Jan Bergman and board chairman Robin SeQueira.

The legal intervention by Monitor to use its formal powers after the trust ‘failed to exercise its functions effectively, efficiently and economically’ is one of only five interventions it has had to make nationally to hospital trusts. Two weeks ago the Echo exclusively revealed that 200 jobs would go and services could be cut at DCH in order to balance the books by 2011. The report states that the trust reported a financial deficit of £1.84million in March.

But six months later, at the time of the Monitor intervention, the expected deficit was expected to reach £7.5million by the end of the next financial year. Trust chief executive Derek Smith is battling to cut that predicted deficit of £7.5million and has previously said that unless the trust acts now the debt could reach £17million by March 2012.

Lib Dem Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for South Dorset Ros Kayes has hit out at hospital chiefs, stating that ‘poor financial management must be held to account’.

She said: “The financial overspend at Dorset County Hospital should never have been allowed to happen.

“I think it is absolutely criminal that they could have been aware of a £1.84million deficit and allowed it to weigh up and get even worse.

“It’s not just down to one man but the whole board. Something procedurally must have gone very wrong and they all have a collective responsibility.”

The annual report also states that the reason for a higher than estimated operating expenditure of £7.93million is that pay costs alone were £3.42million. This was due to additional staff and high emergency pressures causing significant agency costs.

The trust as a consequence will now be ‘red rated’ for the next three months whilst Monitor observes the trust’s management decisions.

Monitor added that it had no reason for concerns over the quality of clinical care provided to patients and that the formal intervention related only to strategic and operational leadership capacity.

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