Countess bosses admit they are caught between ‘a rock and a hard place’ as they look to hit their financial target for 2018-19.
Simon Holden, chief finance officer at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Trust, told his fellow directors that the hospital is looking to cut £10.7 million from its budget at a meeting on Tuesday.
He said that represents a cost-saving challenge of 4.8 per cent on the trust’s £238 million turnover for 2017-18.
“That’s broadly about what most trusts are looking to achieve,” Mr Holden said.
“I’m not saying that’s a deliverable number, I’m not saying it’s the right number, but we’re definitely round about the average position we’re looking at.
“I think this year is probably the most challenging that I have seen and engaging with the divisions I sense that from the managers.”
Mr Holden said that each division in the trust will look to find 3.5 per cent savings, while the Countess would look to find additional funds by freeing up capacity to do more activity.
And to make matters more difficult, the trust is already £250,000 off target after just one month of the financial year - although it does have £8 million in reserves.
Mr Holden added: “I think the percentages we’ve seen, and the percentages we’ve delivered at month one, probably demonstrate that this year is really going to be a tough year.
“This year could be the year that we don’t achieve plan, but we are doing everything we can.”
Tony Chambers, chief executive of the trust, told the board that simply cutting costs is not enough for the Countess.
He wants to see the hospital begin to see the benefits from the investments it has already made, and for the hospital’s leadership to find ways of delivering increased capacity.
“This is ‘rock and a hard place’ stuff,” he said.
“We’ve delivered consistently year-on-year between two and three per cent savings, which wasn’t enough.
“So the challenge for us is to break that cycle, and we really have to do that this year.”