THERE is no Plan B – that’s the stark message to health chiefs at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust if it cannot re-negotiate the terms of a £42.4million loan due for repayment to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).
The warning is contained in a report to be discussed tomorrow (Thursday) which reveals 15 months ago the Trust, which provides acute health care services at Worcestershire Royal was facing an eye-watering accumulated deficit of £199.6million.
It’s a debt which has been growing steadily since it went £14.2million into the red in the 2013-14 financial year.
The debt mountain has ballooned in large part due to the Trust’s failure to generate enough income from its services which has made it reliant on loans from the DHSC to tide it over.
However the department is now calling in those loans.
Standing at £194.8million, the Trust has to find £42.4million for repayment to the DHSC by the end of the March, £72.4million for financial year 2019-20, £60.8million for 2020/21 with the rest spread out until 2037/38.
Trust finance chiefs have also warned WAHT could face a debt of £72million alone for the financial year 2018-19.
It has put on extra beds but has been battered by rising staff costs, particularly for bank nurses while suffering delays in its surgeon recruitment programme which has an impact on how much it can earn from its operating theatres and treatment centres.
As a result the Trust continues to require cash support to maintain services. By the end of November 2018 it had already received £39.2million in revenue loans and £6.3million in capital loans just to keep going.
“There isn’t a plan B for repayment of loans due this year, if the DHSC will not agree to re-financing,” the report reveals.
In response, a trust spokesperson said: “In line with many Trusts we have faced significant challenges to break even each year.
“A number of measures are in place to ensure we meet our financial plan and agreed deficit for 2018/19. This includes a Sustainability Plan overseen by a Turnaround Director from our regulators, NHS Improvement, as well as regular financial confirm and challenge meetings with our divisions.
“Our Medium Term Financial Strategy, which is in development, will set out the measures the Trust will take to make year on year savings and achieve a breakeven position in the next five years.
“We are awaiting national guidance on the re-financing of current loans.”