Finances are a cause for concern says Kettering General Hospital

The staffing bill is the biggest area of overspend at the hospital.
The staffing bill is the biggest area of overspend at the hospital.

Kettering General Hospital has said its financial position is a cause for concern.

Accounts for the latest financial year show that the acute hospital finished up with a deficit of £28.9m.

The hospital’s annual governance report says: “This marked an underachievement against the £27.4m deficit plan. This overall finance picture remained challenging financially, in particular staffing costs in some areas across the trust and in ensuring safe staffing levels in clinical areas.

“A national shortage of trained staff available for recruitment has also led to agency costs remaining high.

“The trust has also seen a number of unplanned impacts on its income position through under-performance in some clinical areas.”

A large number of NHS acute trusts are in deficit with NHS experts saying the trusts should not be blamed for their finances, rather the issue is down to Government underfunding and increased service need.

At the board meeting held on Wednesday (Jul31) at Glebe House in Rothwell Road, Kettering, finance director Nicci Briggs told board members that there had been an overspend of £1.3m in June on staff pay.

the Trust has achieved its quarter one (April to June) budget this resulted in £3.3m performance income from NHS Improvement related to achievement of the budgeted £6m deficit for this period.

However, that position included an overspend of £1.3m over three months on staff pay.

The hospital currently has more than 400 vacancies and is having to pay agency staff and use bank staff to plug the gaps.

Non executive Director Damien Venkatasamy said: “Pay continues to be a huge running sore in terms of overspend.”

Deputy chief executive Eileen Doyle said the issue of overspend on staffing was a top priority. In 2018/19 the trust spent £144m on paying its 4,000 plus staff.

“There is no doubt if we do things differently we can stop it. That is our number one focus now to develop a robust workforce plan.

“We have to do things differently and attracting permanent staff thus reducing the agency burden is key to improving the financial position.

“There is no doubt if we do things differently we can stop it. That is our number one focus now. “

Damien Venkatasamy said: “We have to do things differently. It cannot just be a wing and a prayer and crossing your fingers.”

A report put before the board said: “Our financial position moving forward is a cause for concern.”

The annual governance report says: “For 2019-2020, the board has again set a challenging but achievable financial plan. After a comprehensive financial planning process, the board has agreed a plan for the year of £25.3m deficit. The efficiency saving required in 19/20 is £10.5m, which is 4.4 per cent.”

The annual governance report also lists the salaries of senior staff with a number being paid well over £100,000. Chief executive Simon Weldon, who joined the hospital in May 2018, is being paid £185,000. His deputy Eileen Doyle is in a salary band of £145,000 to £150,000.

Finance director Nicci Briggs takes home between £125,000 and £130,000 and the highest paid person is medical director Professor Andrew Chilton who is paid between £205,000 and £210,000. The report says that £105,000 to £110,000 of his salary relates to clinical duties. His pay is eight times the media average pay which is £26,000.

Trust chairman Alan Burns is paid between £45,000 and £50,000 for his role.