JUST £1 million of a £250 million pot of government funding to help hospitals cope over the winter will be heading to Worcestershire.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the funding, which is to be allocated to 53 NHS trusts most at risk of missing government targets for accident and emergency admissions this winter.
But some claim that the £1 million allocated for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust – which will be shared between Worcestershire
Royal Hospital, Redditch’s Alexandra Hospital and Kidderminster Hospital and treatment centre – will not be enough to deal with the pressures the three facilities will face as the cold weather begins.
The trust’s chief executive Penny Venables welcomed the funding, which she said would be used to get patients into beds quicker and discharge them as soon as possible, but expressed concerns about how the funding had been allocated.
“We are disappointed that our share of the funding seems disproportionate when compared with other ‘at risk’ health economies,” she said.
“We will, however, ensure any funding we do receive is spent wisely and takes as much pressure off A&E as possible.
“We also remain in discussions with our partners across the health economy to ensure that other measures put in place as part of this year’s winter plan to ease A&E pressure are as robust as possible.”
The Government’s target, of all accident and emergency patients being dealt with within four hours, was missed for six consecutive months from November 2012 until the end of April this year.
Worcester MP Robin Walker said the increased funding was “good news” but agreed it was not being distributed fairly.
“Having discussed the situation at length with the management of the acute trust we are concerned that other areas may be receiving more and, always wanting to ensure that Worcestershire gets its fair share of funding, we have already put in our bid for the funding to be increased,” he said.
He has teamed up with West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin and other politicians in the area to write to health minister Jeremy Hunt pleading with him to consider making more money available to the county.
The trust is already under financial pressure and is predicting a yearend deficit of £5 million following an unexpected drop in income of £25 million as a result of an increase in accident and emergency patients and a 10 per cent drop in births.
Efficiency savings of £12 million are also on the agenda and this year, £13 million of funding was unexpectedly withdrawn.