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Challenging year leaves Sherwood Forest hospitals £11m in the red

Sherwood Forest hospitals spent £11m more than planned over the last 12 months due to withdrawn funding, higher demand and a series of strikes.

The NHS trust, which runs King’s Mill and Newark Hospitals, had hoped to end the financial year without a deficit, but has faced a series of problems.

£5.5m of funding which it had expected to receive for Community Diagnostic Centres from NHS England was withdrawn.

King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield
King's Mill Hospital in Sutton-in-Ashfield

Industrial action over pay disputes between the British Medical Association and the government also added £8m of unplanned costs due to cancelled operations, lost time and covering gaps in rotas.

The need for extra beds was also higher than anticipated, particularly during winter pressures, with a total of £13.5m being spent across the year.

The cost of hiring agency workers to cover shifts came to more than £16m, although the trust says use is now decreasing.

A meeting of the trust’s board on Thursday (May 2) was told that it had performed well given the financial conditions.

Chief financial officer Richard Mills said: “We had a break-even target for this year, but it was apparent by the halfway point that this wouldn’t be possible due to demand and industrial action.

“We did well considering the amount of days lost to industrial action or operations cancelled at the last moment.”

He added: “The agency bill is five per cent of our total paybill and is higher than we would like.”

Further strikes are expected over the coming months after pay talks between the BMA and government broke down.

However, the meeting was also told there is an increasing number of locally-trained staff coming into the workforce, meaning less need for agency staff.

Manjeet Gill, a non-executive director, said: “This is really good news. We’ve invested so much in partnerships with educational facilities, and now we’re seeing that pipeline of local recruitment.”

International recruitment has also been temporarily put on hold due to the number of positions which have been filled.

Hospital trusts across the country are also facing rising demand and a care backlog, along with inflation and strikes.

Chanceller Jeremy Hunt announced a £6bn funding increase for the NHS last month in an effort to meet the costs, plus another £2bn to modernise outdated computer systems.

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