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£3.1m deficit reported in first quarter alone by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

A Cambridgeshire NHS trust has said it is entering “uncharted territory” as it faces a £3.1million deficit from the first quarter of the year alone.

The year-to-date deficit reported by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust is dramatically higher than its planned shortfall of £120,000.

The NHS trust is £3.1m in deficit for the first quarter of 2023 alone
The NHS trust is £3.1m in deficit for the first quarter of 2023 alone

The interim director of finance, Derek McNally, said the “complex” pay award for staff, agency staffing costs and the cost of patients being sent out of the county for treatment were among the factors driving up costs.

“We are moving into uncharted territory. We have not been in this position this early on in many years previous to this.”

The trust provides physical and mental health services and its two biggest bases are at the Fulbourn Hospital and the Cavell Centre in Peterborough.

A report to the trust’s board of directors meeting last week (July 26) said it overspent by £900,000 on out-of-area treatment costs and there was a £900,000 “cost pressure” paying for medical agency staff.

It said the trust also faced a £600,000 cost pressure due to the staff pay award, while the estates and IT costs had overspent by £600,000 so far this year.

It said: “The financial position is concerning at this stage and needs urgent and robust focus and review to address the overspends and reduce the risk of variance from plan in future months.”

Stephen Legood, director of people and business development said the agency staffing costs were “incredibly high”, but noted other NHS trusts as well.

Chief medical officer Dr Cathy Walsh said the trust was hoping to reduce the agency rate “significantly”, but said this needed a “coordinated approach” from all NHS trusts to “pressure agencies to reduce what they are asking for”, adding that it was a “seller’s market” with trusts “desperate” to keep services going and competing with each other for agency staff.

Trust chief executive Anna Hills highlighted the issue of patients being treated outside of the county - sometimes “a long way” - due to the trust being unable to provide space.

Debbie Smith, director of operations and system partnership, said 31 trust patients were currently being treated out of the county, but there was a plan to bring them back “as soon as possible”. The target is for no patients to be treated out of the area by the end of September.

Mr McNally said that was “positive” and that if the planned trajectory continued the trust “should see impact on finances fairly quickly”.

Ms Hills also noted the trust was looking to increase the income it could make from its own buildings.

She said: “One of the things which I have done before and has worked really well is looking around the use of photovoltaic income generation from the sun and selling it back to the grid.

“There is lots of the estate we could put solar panels on - those sorts of things could even impact us this year if we get our speed up.”

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