Our continued journey to financial stability

Julie Gillon on a ward walk-round in EAU at the University Hospital of North Tees

It is impossible to read the daily news without coming across stories of struggling NHS organisations. Each facing their own unique financial challenges; bespoke to the communities they serve. Whether it is funding cuts or debt recovery, it is clear that public funded health care providers up and down the country are facing unprecedented pressures and demands.

Locally, our Trust continues to work to achieve a positive financial position for the organisation. Work to date has ensured that recovery is a reality, and thanks must go to our Director of Finance, Neil Atkinson and his team for leading on that ambition.

The Trust continues to work closely with NHSI to deliver robust financial recovery plans i a bid to tackle this challenge. Notwithstanding these pressures, we continue to perform well against national measures, and welcome notable achievements such as being the first in the region for our Digital Maturity Index and for holding the best position regionally for our Hospital Standardised Mortality Rate (HSMR).

The year to date position for North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is a deficit of £1.4 million which is in line with the annual operating plan. Following the implementation of a five year financial strategy, the Trust has been able to sign up to a 2019/20 Control Total which reinforces our commitment to returning to recurrent financial balance. In the event we meet the control total set by NHSI, the Trust would receive c£10.2m of funding which will allow us to report a financially balanced position in 2019/20.

We are making a statement to our national colleagues – excellence is our standard and that is reflected not only in our commitment to improve healthcare for the people of North Tees and Stockton, but in our drive to achieve financial stability too.

So how do we achieve this? It is crucial that we all work together to build towards a sustainable future for the Trust. I want us all to consider how we can impact on the deficit by avoiding duplication of work, physical waste and essentially begin ‘doing things better’. All the while, ensuring that patient safety and outcomes remain at the forefront of everything we do.

We have already established several successful initiatives, not least, reducing agency costs across all staff groups by £2.061 million. But there are other aspects of workforce planning which we must continue to address – the recent implementation of Care Groups not only supports better health outcomes for our local communities, but it will help us achieve a future proofed staffing model too.

The Finance team are currently looking at ways that staff can help to achieve our long term goal, and Neil will be working with them too, exploring better ways to communicate directly with staff. So watch this space for detailed updates and of course, feel free to get in touch with them if you require any additional support.

This said, we must not allow this broader challenge to distract us from delivering the best patient care for our communities. Making savings and improving our financial position is certainly important, but caring for the people of North Tees and Hartlepool will always remain our priority.

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