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We really make our money count

They say money makes the world go round.

In my humble opinion it’s far from the most important thing in life, but it’s one of those things that we have to have, and organisations are clearly no different.

There’s been a lot of talk about money in the NHS of late. In the last week alone there have been articles both in the Times and the Guardian about NHS spending, with that age-old debate coming up around whether the NHS overspends, is underfunded, or both.

It’s been quite widely acknowledged that to keep functioning in the way it does now, the NHS does need more money in the system. And that shouldn’t be about putting more money in and expecting more, but about putting more in to help us cope with the demand we’re already seeing. I also agree with the Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt, when he says that this needs to be an annual budget increase, not a one-off, quick cash fix.

So, we will wait in hope to see what the next few months bring; we’ve been asking for £15 million to invest in our emergency department and I’m still hopeful that, as an outstanding-rated trust, we’ll be considered if money becomes available – whether through a budget increase or a slice of the next round of wider funding that’s gifted to our area.

But for the now, we continue to make the best of what we have, and we know that largely we manage our money well. At the end of the latest financial year we met our control total (which is essentially a savings target that we’re set every year), which was no mean feat. Meeting it meant we received some bonus funding, which in turn gave us an end of year end position of £0.3m deficit, against a planned deficit of £5.9m. In the 2016 Carter review, which looked at the productivity and efficiency of hospitals across the country, we were also deemed as the most efficient hospital of our size, and third best in the country.

So here at the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust we know that high quality patient care and sound financial management go hand in hand. Managing that well means that we can progress and do new things – you may already know that we’re currently building a new cardiac suite (enhanced by our wonderful My WiSH Charity) that will mean we can do new cardiac procedures like fitting pacemakers here at the hospital for the first time ever, and we’ve also invested in building some fantastic new residences on site for our staff.

And our staff are certainly the most importance resource that we have to manage – did you know that roughly 60 pence of every pound hospitals in the NHS spend is on staff? You might have read an article in the Bury Free Press last week about our staff costs, as we needed to spend more on agency staff than we’d planned in April. It’s absolutely true that we spent more than planned, but this was also absolutely the right thing to do. Our daily demand in April was up 7% on April last year (yes, 7%!). So as part of our normal processes, we spent more so we could staff escalation capacity in the hospital to care for those patients and continue to provide the high quality service they, and we, expect. It’s not a long term solution (we’re recruiting now for registered nurses, so please spread the word to anyone who might be interested in joining us as the only outstanding rated acute in the east of England!), but it’s a decision we’ll continue to make. Patients first, always.

I hope like me you’re all making the most of the warm weather and the long days - stay hydrated, stay safe and stay well.


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Chief executive, Steve Dunn

Chief executive, Steve Dunn