FINANCE: A Devon hospital has been given a £2.4m advance payment by its local clinical commissioning group, amid warnings that the trust is “fast running out of cash”.

Plymouth Hospitals Trust has received the “temporary advances” from Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group to manage what the CCG said was a “challenging cash flow situation”.

Last week Mike Williams, a non-executive director at the trust, wrote to The Guardian saying the trust was “fast running out of cash and… reliant on forward payments from our commissioners”.

Dr Williams said Plymouth was also “running out of the precious commodity of staff in key specialities”.

He added that financial and workforce pressures meant “the survival of the NHS as we know it is at stake”.

According to the trust’s most recent board papers, at the end of August its cash balance was £200,000 – £6.7m lower than in July and £3.8 lower than planned.

NEW Devon CCG confirmed to HSJ that it was supporting Plymouth with a £2.4m advance payment, which it said the trust would pay back during the course of this financial year.

Rebecca Harriott, NEW Devon’s chief officer, said: “As a commissioner, we will help providers where we can, and we have paid Plymouth Hospitals Trust earlier than planned for them to resolve its issues.”

The CCG said its other two acute providers – Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital Foundation Trust and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust – had not required any additional financial support outside of the normal contractual process.

Ann James, Plymouth’s chief executive, said: “We face well known long term challenges across Devon, including financial and workforce challenges. That is why we are working together as colleagues in health and social care to address these challenges through the Devon success regime.”

She added: “In terms of our own financial position, I would to reassure patients and staff that we have a plan in place to manage our finances and particularly our cash position until the end of the financial year.”

Northern, eastern and western Devon was one of the first three health economies to be placed in the NHS England success regime – a national programme designed to turn around areas with serious care quality, performance and financial challenges.