FINANCE: At the end of November the primary care trust’s budget for its two local hospitals was on course for an overspend of £4.9m this year, its latest finance report shows.

The overspend to that point had been driven by rising demand for emergency care at North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, and high demand for both elective and emergency care at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation Trust, the report indicated.

Issues around levels of underlying activity at North Cumbria, most notably on the level of non-elective activity have been identified,” it stated. “This short-term activity is not in line with long term trends of flat or declining activity.   The contractual settlement includes a £1.6 million buffer for over-performance and a risk-share above this level.

“Similarly the UHMB contract has risk-share arrangements incorporated but activity in the year so far suggests pressures in both elective and non-elective activity.

“The PCT assesses that should the short-term trends across both Trusts continue for the remainder of the financial year without mitigating action then there would be an overspend of some £4.9 million on the Cumbria-based acute contracts.”

The interim clinical commissioning group for Cumbria was working on a recovery plan which would trim this overspend by £1m, the report added.

The commissioner was facing a further overspend on its contract with the North West Ambulance service.

“There has been a significant increase in emergency ambulance activity in the year-to-date that would generate an overspend of around £0.8 million if current trends continue,” the report stated. “It is noteworthy that patient numbers being transported to accident and emergency are relatively consistent with 2010-11 but the number of calls dealt with by paramedics (i.e. “non conveyance calls”) is running at one of the highest in the country.”