FINANCE: Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust - which is due to be franchised to private provider Circle next month - is having to look for additional savings after a potential shortfall of more than £3m emerged in its original cost improvement programmes.

A finance report to the last board meeting revealed that directorates were being asked to look again for savings after the trust had a £2.2m deficit at the end of October. The trust is forecasting a full year breakeven position but only if it deals with emerging cost pressures, makes up all the slippage in cost improvement plans and uses all its reserves.

At the end of month seven it had planned to have saved £3.1m through CIP but only £1.2m had been delivered. For the full year, the shortfall on the original plan is predicted to be £3.1m.

Problems have included not getting as much business as expected under Patient Choice and greater than planned spending on agency staff.

A project to increase private patient income is “expected to fail to deliver any of the required £200,000” because it requires a new model of cost-effective delivery to be implemented. The delay in Circle taking over the running of the trust has meant that this could not be progressed but the finance report says “discussions with Circle colleagues will now commence in earnest about options to progress this workstream”.

East of England Strategic Health Authority has agreed to meet some of the costs associated with Circle taking over the running of the trust. It is paying £1.1m which had been assumed would have been contributed by Circle in this financial year and the trust is also asking for £568,000 related to extra costs incurred due to the delay. These are hold ups in CIP schemes and additional staffing costs.