NHS trusts plunge into deficit as pressures tighten

NHS bosses are issuing stark warnings many more NHS face plunging into the red in coming months.

Already five out of the 15 NHS trusts serving the region – Barnsley, Leeds, Mid Yorkshire, South Tees and Northern Lincolnshire and Goole – are certain to have deficits by the end of March.

But six others in Yorkshire say there are early signs they could run into major difficulties as they struggle to cut costs following five years of major efficiency programmes.

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At the same time, they are being ordered to expand their workforce in line with a national drive to improve standards and deal with growing demand.

NHS regulator Monitor calculated total staff numbers were up four per cent last year mainly due to drives to improve quality and safety. Official figures show one in four hospital trusts nationally last year received bail-outs worth £600 million.

The largest deficit in Yorkshire is expected to be at the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust where a planned deficit of £42m has been agreed on its budget in excess of £1 billion in 2014-15.

Cost savings of £54m will still be required at the trust which is not expecting to be back in financial balance until 2017-18.

The South Tees trust, which runs the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton and James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough, is looking at a £29m deficit. Managers blame efficiency savings shortfalls and extra costs of measures to sustain quality and meet key targets for the bulk of the problems.

The Mid Yorkshire, which is embarking on a major reconfiguration of its services in Wakefield, Pontefract and Dewsbury to make it both financially and clinically sustainable after a decade of major financial problems, will be around £17.1m in the red by the end of March.

At Barnsley, problems emerged in March when a whistleblower alerted board officials to unspecified irregularities that significantly understated its worsening financial position which left it with a £7.4m deficit. It is expected to be nearly £12m in the red in 2014-15.

The Northern Lincolnshire trust, which runs services in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole, is facing growing financial problems as efforts continue to improve its services following heavy criticism by inspectors.

A need to recruit staff to improve clinical standards, as well as growing problems running duplicated services across different sites, have combined to leave it with a predicted £6m deficit in 2014-15 although already it is £5.7m overspent.