The full extent of the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s finances has become clear as it has emerged that between its deficit and additional savings the Trust was £50m short of a break-even position at the start of this financial year.

At the beginning of this financial year the Trust was operating with a deficit of £39m but was hit with a further savings target of £11m by the Department of Health.

The Impartial Reporter can reveal that by April of 2020 the Trust hopes to have shaved almost £30m off that bill with over £11m coming by way of savings and a review of expenditure, although according to minutes of the November Trust Board meeting Trust Finance Director Neil Guckian revealed that there is a “shortfall” in the Trusts savings plan to date.

Speaking to this newspaper Mr Guckian said that “patient safety will always come first” but that there were “challenges that all Trusts were facing”.

Mr Guckian explained that the Trust was operating within a control total of £15m, which the Finance Director described in lay man’s terms as being similar to an “overdraft” although he also revealed that the Trust was “predicting a deficit of £22m” by the end of the financial year, £7m over this control total.

The Trust embarked on a three-year programme to stabilise its financial position on April 1 2019. The Programme is called ‘Delivering Value’ and a vital component within it is its ‘Financial Recovery Programme’.

To date this financial year the Trust has received a number of cash boosts including additional income of £9m received in July and its share of additional regional funding which amounted to £7.2m.

These cash boosts took £16.5m off the overall deficit.

The Trust had forecast that it will make savings in the region of £7.7m while a review of expenditure is hoped to deliver a further £3.9m in projected savings.

However, at the November Trust Board meeting Mr Guckian explained that “at end of 30 September the Trust is reporting a shortfall in its savings plans”.

Mr Guckian also revealed that vital winter funding was not being made available to the Trust with the minutes of the Trust Board meeting stating: “the Trust has been advised that it will not receive resilience funding during the winter period and the cost of the increased demand on services over the winter period could be up to £2m”.

According to Trust minutes “Mr Guckian advised that Directorates have been asked to review their savings options to try to identify anything that can be brought forward to cover the costs of resilience.”

The loss of this winter resilience funding and also the shortfall in its savings plans were described as “two significant risks facing the Trust” according to Mr Guckian at the November Trust Board meeting.

The most recent financial performance statistics, which break down expenditure by directorate, reveal that acute services is running £10.5m and 11 per cent over its forecast expenditure to date, with spending half way through this financial year reaching £106m.

Other services that are currently spending more than forecast include Primary Care and Old People and Women and Childrens who between them have spent £5m more than predicted to date.