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Southern Trust estimates losses in current financial year to reach £8million

Craigavon Area Hospital

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust estimates its losses for the current financial year will reach £8 million.

This is the latest projection provided to the members of the Trust’s board at its meeting on Thursday, September 29.

In June, the Trust has been projecting a deficit of £16.3 million by year end in April 2023. Since then, a new savings target has been levied on the Trust by the Health Minister to reduce off-contract agency spend by £2.507 million.

The Trust has also been in discussion with the Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) and having taken these discussion into account its revised estimate forecast is now projecting a loss of £8 million this financial year.

For the five months ending August 31, the Trust reported a deficit of £7.3 million. Approximately £18 million has been spent on Covid costs this financial year with the report warning that except for long Covid and PPE, “all other areas under Covid currently are funded for the first quarter only”.

However, the report notes, “it is recognised by DoH [Department of Health] that Covid costs continue and the assumption that no more funding be made available would not be achievable”.

“Therefore, whilst there is some level of risk associated with this, further bids are being made by SPPG to DoH on the continuing Covid costs.”

Taking Covid costs out of the equation, the Trust’s core underlying deficit as of August 31, is £4.1 million. This is, according to the report presented to the board, “broadly in line with that anticipated at this stage of the financial year and with the current projected year-end deficit”.

Addressing the meeting, the Trust’s assistant director of finance – financial management, Carol Cassells, said further information on how the Trust aims to meet its estimated £8 million loss by the end of this financial year will be provided at October’s board meeting.

“After detailed discussion with the SPPG our revised estimate forecast is now in the region of £8 million and we hope to bring more information to the board at the next month’s meeting,” said Ms Cassells.

“In the main, the movement relates to potential additional funding sources as notified to us by SPPG and these are in response to areas we have already raised within our Trusts’ financial plan.

“The main movement relates to funding available for drugs, budgets and pressures that were carried forward from the last financial year.”

Ms Cassells also confirmed a financial sustainability plan is currently being formulated by the Trust’s finance team. “The finance team have commenced work on a financial sustainability plan for the Trust,” she said.

“It will identify where we are spending our budget and where resources are being committed in order to meet our priorities to meet the needs of our patients and clients and any potential areas of efficiencies.

“Cumulatively, by month five we have an overspend of £7.3 million. Of that, £3.1 million relates to the current deficit and Covid funding.

“To date Covid funding has been agreed for quarter one spend and quarter two for long Covid. We have identified our estimate for Covid funding that we need for the full year to the Department and SPPG and we continue to work closely with them to secure funding for the same.

“There is a recognition at Department level there will be ongoing Covid costs that will need funding secured.

“Our current year budget is in the region of £850 million this would be expected to grow as further funding is agreed over the remainder of the financial year.

“Taking Covid out of the equation the underlying deficit is £4.1 million and that is broadly in line with where we expect to be with our revised £8 million deficit at year end.”

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