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Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust plans to cut agency staff as deficit expected to hit £14million

Sherwood Forest Hospitals is looking to become less reliant on agency staff to cut costs as it expects to be £14million in the red over the coming year.

The NHS trust runs Newark, King’s Mill and Mansfield Community hospitals.

It is looking to cut “high-cost” temporary staffing by around 100 roles to help save £3.3million in the financial year 2024 to 2025.

Newark Hospital, part of Sherwood Forest Hospital’s NHS Trust.
Newark Hospital, part of Sherwood Forest Hospital’s NHS Trust.

Savings are required because the trust expects it will have a £14million deficit in the coming year, up from around £11million in the previous 12 months.

During a board meeting on Thursday, June 6, Richard Mills, chief financial officer, said it has been a “real challenge”.

“It is fair to say it has been a very difficult planning round across the NHS, but our 2024-25 plan sets out an ambition to improve our clinical and operational performance to improve the lives of our people and patients,” he said.

“Our plan recognises our need to reduce high cost temporary staffing. We are aiming to reduce our agency pay bill by at least £3.3million compared to the last financial year.”

Despite the expected deficit, the Trust says it is planning to improve its A and E wait times by around 6%.

This means it is aiming to see 78% of all patients within four hours by March 2025.

It is also looking to cut 65-week waits for planned care and operations to zero by September. There had been 347 patients waiting longer than 65 weeks in February this year.

Under the plan, the trust further hopes to speed up cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dr David Selwyn, acting chief executive, said in his report the trust is facing “extremely high demand” in A and E as well as future strike action.

“This sustained high demand has meant that our Urgent and Emergency Care pathway remains under pressure, with patients having to wait longer than we would wish for treatment and admission,” he says in the report.

“We have put in place escalation actions, including implementing our Full Capacity Protocol, on several occasions to help improve the timeliness of patient care.

“We continue to work to reduce the number of long-waiting patients in 2024 as we focus on recovery plans for our most challenged services.

“Within our cancer services, we continue to meet the national 28-day faster diagnosis standard. We have further work to do in 2024 to improve the timeliness of the treatment phase of our cancer pathways.”

The Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust, Nottinghamshire Healthcare Trust, Nottingham University Hospitals, and the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Board all operate under a partnership called the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire ICS.

All four health organisations are expecting a total deficit of £105.7million for 2024-25, including Sherwood Forest Hospitals’ £14million.

The trust says it is hoping to save £38million in an financial improvement programme, however £22million of this is currently at risk of not being achievable.

Across the partnership, all four health organisations are hoping to save £251.2million under the programme.

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