Gwent health board faces an £8.4m deficit
6:07am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
GWENT’S health board has forecast a deficit of £8.4 million by the end of the current financial year.
Difficulties in balancing its budget remain, despite Aneurin Bevan Health Board receiving almost £24 million of extra funding this year from the Welsh Government, to deal with mounting pressures in unscheduled care.
The Welsh Government funding was part of a Wales-wide injection of an extra £150 million into the NHS, through health boards and trusts, to help them cope with increased demand.
Prior to the announcement of that extra money, Aneurin Bevan Health Board was projecting a deficit of £17.9 million by the end of October, but this was subsequently reduced to a £5.4 million deficit.
But if the health board continues to overspend on its budget projection, based on current financial performance, then the deficit by the end of March, 2014, will be the aforementioned £8.4 million, unless savings can be made.
The board has struggled to contain spending across a range of areas during 2013/14, with unscheduled care being a particular problem due to sustained demand above the predicted levels.
Variable pay costs including the likes of agency staff, also remain stubbornly high, and higher than predicted by £4 million to £5 million.
Another issue is higher than estimated costs for Continuing Healthcare packages for people requiring complex care in their own homes.
Board finance director Alan Brace called the latest monthly outcome and forecast “disappointing.”
“We would have been hoping to turn some of these issues around. (Financially) we are not where we want to be,” he said.
Of the extra £23.88 million for unscheduled care pressures, he said the true figure is nearer £21.4 million as a portion of the funding was ringfenced to help pay for ambulance service improvements, and issues around cardiac surgery in Cardiff.
Mr Brace added that “corrective action” will be needed to close the gap, and it has to be done within the remaining health board budget for 2013/14, of around £400 million.
Proposals for clawing back the forecast deficit – to at least break even by the end of next March – are currently being drawn up by health board chiefs.
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