FINANCE: Staff vacancies, a land sale and a “favourable contract settlement” accounted for most of the progress Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals made towards its savings target in the first month of 2013-14, according to its latest finance report.

The report said that at the end of April 2013 the trust had delivered £3.8m of its annual savings target, of which £3.4m were recurrent savings.

However, it added: “This is largely a result of a favourable contract settlement, which achieved £2.9m.”

For the month of April, the trust recorded savings of £700,000, against planned savings of £400,000. But the report noted that £200,000 of the recorded “savings” came from non-recurrent profits from a land sale at the start of the financial year. A further £200,000 came from “non-recurrent savings from a number of areas across the Trust, primarily from ad hoc vacancies”.

It added that without the non-recurrent savings the trust would have been £100,000 short of April’s target.