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Royal Stoke Hospital offered financial lifeline

The Royal Stoke Hospital is being offered £32 million by the Government provided it can get spending under control.

The trust that runs the hospital can get the cash if it can avoid going more than £32 million into the red this year.

NHS bosses have welcomed the offer which comes as University Hospitals of North Midlands (UHNM) Trust – which also runs Stafford’s County Hospital – is expected to end 2018/19 with a whopping £56 million deficit.

That figure does not include £11.6m in fines which could be imposed if the trust loses its long-running legal fight with the region’s clinical commissioning groups over performance. A ruling is expected within days.

The control total was revealed at the trust’s May board meeting. The trust still remains in financial special measures.

Acting chief financial officer Jonathan Tringham said: “If the trust meets that £32 million target – which it is planning to do – it will receive £32 million funding and the trust will record a break-even position in its accounts for 2019/20.”

Trust board chairman David Wakefield said: “We have to go for it. In 2017/18 there was a deficit of £69 million and now in 2018/19 a deficit of £56 million.

“I think there is a message there for staff – this is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.”

It has also been revealed that the trust will be exempt from contractual penalties this year if it stays under the magic £32 million.

Health campaigner Ian Syme says the setting of the control target ‘removes a millstone from around the trust’s neck’.

The North Staffordshire Healthwatch leader said: “This is excellent news. This was a trust that was £120 million in deficit and it will be breaking even in a very short time.

“When trusts are in financial deficit you can see the quality of services deteriorate. But there hasn’t been a deterioration in the quality of the services here and that one hell of an achievement.”

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