FINANCE: One of the capital’s most financially challenged trusts is now reporting a significant reduction in its predicted deficit.

Imperial College Healthcare Trust is forecasting a deficit of £19m for 2011-12, down from the £35m envisaged earlier this year.

NHS London director of finance Paul Baumann told the January board meeting of the strategic health authority that Imperial had cut the projected overspend in three ways.

He said the new finance team, led by Bill Shields, former finance director at NHS South West, had found that the inflation estimate for the trust had been too high and that there were higher stock levels “than was appropriate”.

Mr Baumann also said the savings plan of the £932m turnover organisation had been improved. But Imperial’s most recent finance report said: “Concern remains over the level of cash balances during quarter four and how the trust ensures it can continue to make payments.”

It added: “The trust is discussing with NHS London the possibility of accessing additional public dividend capital to support its working capital position.”

Year to date savings total £32.1m, £12.3m behind plan. The forecast outturn 2011-12 savings are £43.8m, and year-to-date savings 49 per cent of plan, the report said.