Staffordshire hospitals trust goes FOUR TIMES over winter budget
The trust which runs two of Staffordshire's biggest hospitals has spent almost £8 million managing winter pressure - more than four times the figure it had budgeted.
University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM), which operates County Hospital in Stafford and Royal Stoke, set aside £1.6m in anticipation of the typical increased demand between December 1 and February 28.
But this month's trust board report revealed the amount spent was closer to £7.9m.
Bosses have declared that their original winter plan was their most 'comprehensive' ever but stated the increased investment was 'necessary'.
Helen Ashley, chief officer finance and performance, said: “As part of our most comprehensive winter plan to date, UHNM allocated £1.6m of funding towards managing winter based on previous years’ experiences.
“However, we have since expanded this plan to include a number of necessary additional measures, which have helped address the pressures and challenges that the health system as a whole has faced this winter.
“Therefore, the overall funding for winter has increased as and when these measures have been introduced.”
The trust has paused elective orthopaedic surgery at County Hospital until the end of this month while they have also ensured 63 extra beds are available at Bradwell Hospital in Newcastle-under-Lyme to free up space, particularly at Royal Stoke.
The Express & Star had previously revealed all staff across the two sites had been stopped from taking the week off over Christmas and New Year in a bid to cope with demand.
County Hospital had to divert hospitals away from Weston Road on the Saturday before New Year's Eve.
Then Royal Stoke hit the headlines in the first week of 2018 after consultant Richard Fawcett publicly apologised for what he described as 'third world' conditions.
While our report earlier this week revealed that both hospitals were set to continue to struggle to cope with demand and meet performance targets in the next 12 months.
A trust report stated that bosses anticipate falling short of benchmarks for the four-hour A&E wait standard and the 18-week referral to treatment target (RTT) in 2018/19 incurring a £10m fine.