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
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
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
The impact of not resolving this is simple
- 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
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