NO cuts will be made at Salisbury District Hospital despite a £12.5million financial shortfall in 2018, the Trust’s chief executive has said.

Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust is in breach of its licence after moving away from its planned deficit for this financial year.

The hospital had been under investigation by regulatory body NHS Improvement (NHSI) following its “deteriorating financial position”.

The Trust had forecast a £7million debt, but chief executive Cara Charles-Barks said “gaps in income” at the start of the year and increased spending on agency staff meant the target would not be possible. 

Former head of finance Malcolm Cassells had previously said there was “no hope” of delivering the £14.5million savings required at a board meeting in April 2017.

Mrs Charles-Barks said the hospital had been expecting a deficit for the past two years, and only avoided the debt in 2017 after receiving a one-off payment of £10million in additional funding from the Department of Health.

But she said quality of care “would not be compromised” as a result of the financial pressures faced by the Trust, and there would “absolutely not” be any cuts. 

“We are not looking to make any changes that will affect patients,” she said.

The Trust must now provide a detailed financial recovery plan to NHSI, who will monitor the hospital’s financial situation.

Mrs Charles-Barks said the plan, which will cover the next two or three years, “isn’t about rapid cost cutting, but about building a long term plan to make sure we are financially sustainable and on a good footing”.

NHSI director Amanda Lyons said the body would be working with the Trust to put long and short-term measures in place to help the hospital improve its financial situation.

Measures are likely to include improving the recruitment drive for the hospital to bring on more permanent staff, and trying to reduce unnecessary hospital stays for adult patients.

Mrs Charles-Barks added: “Our financial challenge is something for us to step up and commit to resolving.

“The reality is many NHS Trusts have significant financial challenges – it doesn’t make us any different or any less than any other organisation.”

And a union representative said the Trust’s financial position was common across the NHS and “an inevitable consequence of years of underfunding and austerity measures imposed by government since 2010”.

Lead Unison steward Mark Wareham said Salisbury’s Trust had previously maintained a positive financial situation “because it is such a well-run and efficient organisation”, and that “the extent of underfunding of our health services is now being revealed”.

He said the one-time funding boost the Trust received last year was an effort to address “short-term political need” rather than “meaningful investment in the NHS”.

Mr Wareham said Unison would work with the Trust to improve efficiency, saying it would “struggle on its own” to address the issue based on its current funding.