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Wednesday, 01 October 2014

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Chiefs appeal for £17m boost for health budget

A CASH-STRAPPED hospital trust says it needs £17m extra per year to account for the area’s challenging geography.

A study commissioned by the trust which runs hospitals in Barrow, Kendal and Lancaster found around half of its £31.7m deficit is down to “structural problems”.

Kirk Panter, staff side chairman at the trust, said: “We are not asking for special treatment, we are asking for a level playing field. It is vital for patients and frontline staff.

“We have had to make decisions that we would have all preferred not to have made around things like staffing levels.”

Bosses are also on the hunt for a £1.4m cash injection to deal with an unprecedented and unexplained rise in seriously ill patients arriving at hospital A&E wards.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust saw a 16.8 per cent increase in ambulance attendances at its hospitals in June compared to the previous year.

But while the cash injection is a short-term fix, the trust also claims a modification to its budget is needed each year.

Aaron Cummins, deputy chief executive of the trust, told a board meeting yesterday that the average hospital trust has one-and-a-half sites, whereas UHMBT operates three.

The trust receives cash from NHS England for providing services, but low population sizes in Cumbria mean local hospitals carry out less activity and therefore receive smaller payments.

The distance between the trust’s three sites also increases pressure on its budget. Hospital trusts are able to apply for a modification due to local circumstances.

The trust will first apply to NHS Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, in charge of the county’s budget.

But Mr Cummins said: “It is highly likely that the commissioners will say ‘we totally agree with you, but we just don’t have the resources.’”

He said the trust will then apply to NHS regulator Monitor to change its tariff, meaning the extra cash will make up part of Cumbria’s overall budget.

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