FINANCE: At the start of March the foundation trust had identified plans for cost savings of £5.1m in 2011-12, board papers show.

At the time Countess of Chester Foundation Trust had a savings target of £7.1m, or 5 per cent of its “influence-able” cost base, a 1 March paper states.

This left it with a gap in its saving plans for 2011-12 of £1.9m. It also had saving plan gaps of £2.5m for the following financial year, and £4.1m for 2013-14.

An appendix to the report lists for discussion possible additional savings schemes for 2011-12, including a “review” of nursing skillmix, rotas, specialist nurses, handover arrangements, and use of healthcare assistants, which it suggested might save £200,000 over two years.

The report concludes: “Based on existing forecasts and excluding any further significant commissioning reductions the trust must save £136,000 per week to hit financial plan.  Savings so far equate to £100,000 per week so the gap will extrapolate rapidly.

“Clearly, commissioning intentions are crucial to the in year and longer term [cash-releasing efficiency] targets and the Board will be informed as information is available,” it adds.