Morecambe bay health trust’s £67m debt is highest in north of England

Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
Royal Lancaster Infirmary.
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The health trust that runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary had the biggest financial deficit in the north of England for 2017/18.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust (UHMBT) recorded a £67.6m deficit last year, despite making £17m worth of savings.

Only four other health trusts in England had higher deficits, figures from NHS Improvement have revealed.

The trust also failed to hit its four hour A&E waiting target in 2017/18.

The trust saw or admitted 79.25 per cent of patients presented to A&E within four hours. The target is 95 per cent.

Keith Griffiths, Interim Director of Finance for University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Trust’s deficit in 2017/18 was £67.6m.

“This was after delivering savings in excess of £17m whilst simultaneously maintaining our high standards of clinical care and operational performance.

“This year, we have set a challenging target of £14m and have already identified savings of over £12m towards this target.

“For the coming year, we are planning a substantial capital spending programme across all our sites as we continue to invest in the future and will work with our partners to build a solid financial base across the Morecambe Bay health economy to ensure we continue to provide sustainable healthcare into the future.”

Foluke Ajayi, Chief Operating Officer UHMBT, added: “The 2017-18 winter period has been pretty relentless and has seen large numbers of people seeking treatment at our Emergency Departments.

“Our staff have worked tirelessly in support of our patients and public and I want to thank them for going the extra mile to ensure that people received safe care and treatment over the entire period.

“The situation still remains busy and we will continue to work to try and reduce the amount of time people wait to be admitted or discharged from our Emergency Departments.

“We are also working with our colleagues across the system, including GPs, the ambulance service, social care and our colleagues in Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group to explore what other schemes or systems we can put into place to provide a better experience for the public and our staff.”

The trust said it had introduced “Discharge to Assess” (D2A) across its hospitals.

This is a process whereby patients are transferred from an acute hospital at the point where they no longer require acute hospital care through one of three pathways: either at home and may require further care and/or therapy (pathway 1 - Home First); in a community intermediate care bed with rehabilitation (pathway 2); or in a care home to enable a period of recovery and completion of longer term care assessments (pathway 3).

Foluke Ajayi added: “With these pathways, health and/or social care assessments are completed outside of the acute hospital environment.

“The expected outcomes from this work are shorter lengths of stay, improved overall patient experience through patients having their care needs assessed in a more appropriate setting and reduced use of hospital beds.”