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IMPORTANT Message from David Hammond, Director of Finance & Corporate Services

23 December 2016

Ambulance LogoDear Colleagues,

I know that many staff are already working hard to address the quality issues highlighted by the CQC. However, alongside this, as Director of Finance, I also need to ensure we are all fully aware of the critical nature of the Trust’s financial position.

We are currently reporting a predicted year-end deficit for 31st March 2017 of £7.1m - this means we will spend this amount more than we receive in funding. 

We have chosen to be in this position and to use our reserves to support us during this year, so that we can deliver the changes required to restore the organisation to its position as one of the best ambulance services in the country.

But as we now start to see the improvements required by the CQC taking hold, we must start to immediately focus on bringing the financial position back into balance – to ensure that we only spend what we earn in effect. Without doubt this will be difficult and needs a Trust-wide effort and collective ownership of the task.

Over the coming days and weeks, we will start to introduce a number of changes to ensure that we are as efficient as possible.  We will continue to scrutinise every element of cost within every area of the Trust and determine if it is necessary.  Everyone in the Trust can help and our combined efforts can make an immediate and substantial difference. 

Our regulator, NHS Improvement (NHSI), have been clear with us that, due to the level of overspend predicted, we are very close to being placed into financial special measures - I believe that this would be disastrous!

We are in a position where, if we don’t make changes and unpalatable decisions for ourselves now, then external people will simply be brought in to enforce these changes on us anyway.  At yesterday’s monthly meeting, NHSI made it extremely clear that this is now as high priority as all other agendas. 

The impact of not resolving this is simple e.g.:

  • We will run out of cash
  • We will not be able or allowed to invest in any new infrastructure (fleet, estates and IT)
  • Cost-cutting will be imposed on us across the whole Trust

I am sure that we all agree that we do not want to be in this position and for the very short term at least, it is within our gift to improve things. 

I am therefore setting the Trust a target between January to March 2017 to ensure that we only spend what we earn.  The ‘run rate’ for the year to date has been a negative £2m for each quarter, so this is a substantial challenge. 

As a result, there will inevitably be some decisions which are well received and some not so.  This will always be the case in a workforce of 4,000 staff with different motivations and personal values.  However, the collective purpose for which we are all here is to deliver the best service we can to the population we serve. 

I hope that we can all understand that ensuring that we are an organisation that lives within its means, will allow us to build a solid foundation on which to continue to do this for many years to come.

Please feel free to discuss with me or any of the Executive team.

David Hammond - Director of Finance and Corporate Services

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