Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust chief says Government funding is good news

The chief executive of Stamford Hospital, Dr Peter Reading.
The chief executive of Stamford Hospital, Dr Peter Reading.
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THE chief executive of the trust that runs Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals says it is “positive” news that the Government has recognised it needs financial support.

Peterborough and Stamford Hospital Trust is one of seven identified as needing additional financial support and last week Health Minister Simon Burns revealed he would be sending Government lawyers and auditors into the hospitals to look at possible savings.

The trust has a huge financial burden after committing to loan repayments on the £290m Peterborough City Hospital, which opened in 2011.

Repayments this year stand at £41.3m, rising to £43.3m in 2013/14. The loan repayments for the private finance initiative ends in November, 2042.

The trust’s regulator Monitor asked the trust to come up with a strategy for tackling its financial deficit, which this year alone is forecast to be £54.3m and the trust has unveiled a five-year cost-saving plan.

The trust plans to make efficiency savings of £58.7m over the next five years but crucial to the plan is support from the Department of Health.

Interim chief executive Dr Peter Reading said there was a “steep hill to climb financially” but said it was good news that the trust was clear about what it would take to solve the money problems.

He said: “We know we are one of a small group of seven trusts which the Government recognise as needing help. We have been recognised as needing special support.

“At the moment I don’t know when the Government will take a decision and we don’t know how much we will get.

“While it means the heat is on, it also means there is an opportunity for support.”

He welcomed the Government’s auditors and lawyers, which he said was “entirely right”.

In February the trust received a £46m payout from the Government to cover its running costs for the rest of the financial year.

Dr Reading said he was confident the trust would receive a similar cash injection in December.

He said: “We have got enough cash to pay the bills until December.

“But even if no long-term solutions have been found by then, I feel confident there is a definite prospect of another payment.”

The plan states that the £58.7m of efficiency savings over the next five years would “broadly maintain the underlying annual deficit at its current level”.

The five-year plan also outlines the trust’s aims to generate an extra £25m a year by 2016/17 by attracting more patients from the wider area, as well as expanding its most profitable services.

Dr Reading said he had already been talking with staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and as a result he believes more cancer patients will be treated at Peterborough City Hospital in the future.

He said there were both advantages and disadvantages to having a hospital funded by a private finance initiative.

Dr Reading said: “We have got a brand new Range Rover, where previously we had two or three rusty old Cortinas. We have got this hospital at Peterborough which is fit for purpose for the next 60 years.

“If readers visit some of the old buildings they will notice some of the shortcomings.

“It is not perfect but the overall reality is that we have got a very fine building, one of the best hospital buildings in Europe.”

Dr Reading said he was “encouraged by the healthcare” provided by the trust and said there was “huge support” from the Government for the NHS as a whole.

Monitor requires the trust to produce a three-year plan but the trust decided to produce a five-year plan so it could get a “longer term view” of its financial situation.