The trust running the hospital treating patients from South Holland has paid a price for recruiting new staff after fears were raised over its “financial resilience”.
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust (ULHT), which runs Boston’s Pilgrim Hospital, has been referred to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt because of its financial deficit for 2013/14.
A report published by the Audit Commission, the body which oversees how the NHS, police and other public services spends money raised through taxation, said ULHT was one of 19 trusts facing “sizeable financial pressures” due to “a rising demand for services”.
The trust was put in special measures in July 2013 after concerns were raised over unsatisfactory standards of care and mortality rates, with a recommendation to recruit more staff in order to improve patient care.
David Pratt, ULHT’s director of finance and corporate affairs, said: “The trust’s financial deficit for 2103/14 was more than that planned at the beginning of the year because of higher levels of expenditure on doctors and nurses throughout the year.
“For example, we employed over 100 more nurses than in the previous year and the trust secured cash financing from the Department of Health in March 2014 to service the deficit, without impacting on care and the delivery of high-quality services.
“The expenditure was consistent with recommendations of the Keogh Review (into the quality and treatment provided by NHS trusts and published in July 2013) and formed part of the trust’s quality improvement journey.
“We need to eliminate the deficit over time and the trust is combining efforts on internal efficiency alongside work with the NHS Trust Development Authority and our health and care partners in the community, including through the Lincolnshire Health and Care review, to achieve this.
“Auditors did praise the quality of our accounts and recognised improved savings achievements in the latter part of 2013/14, but we have a slightly reduced deficit plan for 2014/15.”
Marcine Waterman, the Audit Commission’s controller of audit, said: “This year, auditors are reporting concerns about the financial resilience of a third of (98) NHS trusts, compared with a quarter last year.
“This level of reporting is worrying and reflects the increasing risks to the financial sustainability of individual NHS trusts as they continue to face sizeable financial pressures. Such pressures are due to a rising demand for services and the necessary focus on quality of care, whilst balancing the need for continued cost savings.”