HSJ’s essential digest of Tuesday’s significant developments for healthcare leaders.
Today’s talking point: King’s deficit could double as acute sector shortfalls mount
Today’s risk: Nursing shortfall is a “ticking time bomb”, a workforce expert warns
Teaching hospital finances growing grimmer
A big beast of the hospital world, University College London Hospitals Foundation Trust looks set to scrape recording a “small surplus” for 2014-15, after indicating it had received sufficient specialist “Project Diamond” national funding. It comes contrary to expecations the specilist funding may be withdrawn.
Elsewhere among the large teaching hospital trusts, though, things are looking grimmer than ever. King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust, one of the country’s most prestigious teaching hospitals, reported a £47.4m deficit in March - £19.4m worse than it had previously predicted, although the audited position has not yet been reported.
As HSJ’s editor remarked, the total deficit built up by just a handful of big trusts is alarming:
£192m! - the combined forecast deficits of just THREE NHS trusts http://t.co/yh0qS4jQbY (King’s, Barts & Leeds)
— Alastair McLellan (@HSJEditor) May 12, 2015
Ministerial health team falls into place - with the departure of “pecs dance” Dr Dan Poulter
The government appears to have finalised its ministerial team. IN are Alistair Burt (covering the social care beat) and Ben Gummer (portfolio TBC) and OUT are Norman Lamb (who is off to compete for the Liberal Democrat leadership) and, more amusingly in the immediate term, Dr Daniel Poulter. Dr Dan is a working hospital doctor and says he can no longer balance that with ministerial life. May we take this opportunity to remind readers of some of his best known achievements: His topless flu jab snap, and “pecs dance” notoriety.
RETURNING is Jeremy Hunt as health sec, as revealed by HSJ on Monday. It appears he will be joined too by existing DH ministers George Freeman and Jane Ellison. No confirmation yet about whether Lord Howe is returning to complete the team.
Nursing shortfall a “ticking time bomb”
We are “teetering on the brink of disaster on unprecedented scale” because of a shortage of nurses, argues Jan Quallington, head of the Institute of Health and Society at Worcester University, in a comment piece for HSJ.
The nursing shortfall, which could be as high as 190,000 by 2016, has led to “short term, costlier measures to plug the gaps”, such as the use of agency staff and recruiting overseas nurses.
“It is immensely frustrating that the obvious solution of producing more committed, domestically trained nurses, continues to stare us in the face,” she writes.