THE Western Trust is reporting an overspend of over £1.8million in the first quarter of this financial year.
During the Western Trust Board's latest meeting, Executive Directors acknowledged that an increased use in temporary staff was contributing to an overspend of £3.4million in salaries and wages as at July 31 across the Trust area.
There have been savings however in expenditure on goods and services of £1.6million, offsetting the overall deficit, which stands at £1,872,000.
Chairman of the Trust Board, Gerard Guckian, said the first quarter in every financial year seemed to experience the same trend.
"The expenditure seems to go up at the end of the first quarter and then drop back down again at the end of the year," he told the meeting, "It's not a great way to run business from a non-executive point of view. But I have spoken to the chairs of other Trusts and everyone is experiencing the same problem."
The meeting heard that the directors of each of the Departments will need to consider corrective action in order to bring the Trust as a whole in line with the original financial plan.
In Acute services, £1,290,000 was overspent on salaries and wages for the first four months.
An over spend of £1,096,000 was reported in Women and Children's Services.
A cumulative agency expenditure of £3,934,000 includes £2,259,000 on medical agency staff, representing 57 per cent of the total expenditure on agency staff.
The Western Trust submitted a break even position plan to the Health and Social Care Board as part of the Trust Delivery Plan in May 2012.
And according to Chief Executive, Elaine Way, the Trust will meet this objective.
"The savings we have to make are quite substantial," she said, "This year is going to be extremely difficult. But you are assured that we will break even. The biggest challenge is going to be 2013/2014.
"But I find it helpful to think about what the situation is elsewhere. Each Trust is finding this year particularly difficult."
In order to meet the break even target, the Trust has to develop a Contingency Plan. Directorates have developed plans amounting to £15.1million, the Trust Board meeting heard.
However, there is a planning gap of £3.1million.
The meeting heard it was imperative, given the current financial position of the Trust, that all Contingency Plans are closed as soon as possible and that Directorates give assurance that they will fully deliver on all measures.
Ms Way said each Director was "absolutely clear" on the way forward for the Trust to break even.
"I do not believe our directors are wasting money on services that don't need to be delivered," she said, "In terms of the money spent on agency staff, the percentage in doctors is coming down, which is a good sign of our ability to recruit and maintain medical staff. But nursing is going up. I know from speaking to doctors that they don't just lightly bring in extra staff -- it is done where it's necessary."
Director of Human Resources, Nuala Sheerin, said she believed the new South West Acute Hospital would serve to attract applicants for vacant positions and go some way to addressing the issue of overspend on salaries and wages.
Mr Guckian added that a recent visit from the Permanent Secretary, Dr Andrew McCormick, had highlighted this well.
"He met with doctors and nurses and had very positive and constructive discussions about the hospital. Staff were clearly positive about opportunities for career development and that positivity can be infectious and attract others to come and work in the West too," he said.