THE TRUST that runs Basingstoke hospital are spending 6-7% more on staffing than last year after “severe operational pressure”.

The financial position of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been described as “serious and currently unchanging” after they said their budget deficit was almost £2 million.

The trust runs Basingstoke & North Hampshire Hospital, Andover War Memorial Hospital and Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester.

Malcolm Ace, Chief Financial Officer of Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said in the report to the Board of Directors that it was down to “very high and unprecedented” levels of unplanned care from February to June, the date of the report.

This has left them unable to reduce the numbers of agency staff used as planned, resulting in salary costs 6-7% higher than 2018-19.

These factors led them to declare a £1.9 million deficit in June, below target by £2.7 million.

Mr Ace recommended in the findings: “The Trust needs to progress both with immediate savings projects and the longer term re-imagining of our activities and cost base.”

The commentary on the report added: “The increased level of non-elective activity has meant that we have not been able to reduce staffing levels, either within A&E and associated areas or no wards, had we been able to reduce bed capacity in a more sustained way.

“The pressure on non-elective activity and A&E attendances have not reduced in the first half of June, and there has been no reduction during June in the use of agency staff.”

It continued to say that agency staff were used to meet the shortfall of staff on a short-term basis.

Alex Whitfield, chief executive of Hampshire hospitals, said: “The trust has met its financial targets agreed with NHS Improvement for the first six months of the year. However, the severe operational pressure from near record attendances at both our emergency departments (ED), means that the trust is unlikely to do so for the whole year.

“We are now seeing 10% more patients than we were at this time last year; each and every day. It is only thanks to the enormous efforts of all our fantastic staff – who daily go above and beyond – that we have been able to cope so far.

“But we can’t do it alone; we need residents help. ED is designed for people in immediate need of critical or lifesaving care. People can directly help their NHS by accessing care through speaking to their local pharmacist, who can advise and treat a range of symptoms. If anyone needs help deciding which service is right for them, the NHS 111 service will be able to assist; either by phone or online."

In a further report to the board of directors on June 27, a progress report was provided following last year’s CQC report.

Basingstoke & North Hampshire Hospital, as well as Andover War Memorial Hospital and Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester, were rated as Requires Improvement at their latest CQC inspection.

However, further inspections by the CQC have found that progress since last year has been “extremely positive”.