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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Hospital bosses ask for £7.7m more cash as they struggle to balance books

Hospital bosses are pleading with commissioners for a further £7.7 million to help reduce an ever-growing deficit.

Ann Farrar photo
Ann Farrar

They say ongoing efforts to improve quality and safety at the troubled Carlisle and Whitehaven hospitals are hitting them hard financially.

The North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Cumberland Infirmary and West Cumberland Hospital, is struggling to balance its books.

Additional costs this year include the high cost of locum doctors to cover key posts as bosses struggle with recruitment. Efforts to get the trust, which was placed in special measures by the Government due to concerns about care, back on track are also becoming a financial drain.

Chairman Ian Gordon said major changes were needed, but they come at a cost.

The trust was promised an extra £7.7m from NHS Cumbria’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) this year to support its planned merger with Northumbria Healthcare.

But the takeover was put on hold until the trust gets itself out of special measures.

Chief executive Ann Farrar told yesterday’s board meeting that she had written to the CCG to plead their case for the additional funds now. But she said it was “touch and go” as to whether bosses agree.

“I wrote last week and set out a very strong argument to help the governing body of the CCG make their decision.

“There have been a number of significant issues we have had to invest in over the past year to enhance quality and safety. There is a very strong argument for them to support that,” she explained.

“At the end of the day they are part of the system. In Cumbria it is a system issue.

The CCG is Cumbria’s commissioning body, meaning it decides where the majority of local NHS cash is spent.

“We all have the duty to provide the safest quality of care and that includes the commissioners,” she added.

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