Leeds NHS trust ‘confident’ it will achieve £10m budget surplus

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The city’s NHS trust is expecting to overturn a huge financial challenge and record a budget surplus for the first time in four years.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said its expected surplus of around £10m at the end of March would be its biggest ever.

The organisation looks set to make £63m in savings and balance its books as other NHS trusts around the country struggle with multi-million pound deficits, leading to calls for an overhaul of the health funding system.

Finance director Simon Worthington said: “This will be the first surplus delivered in four years and the largest surplus that the trust has ever delivered.”

The surplus has been made possible with cash from the government’ Sustainability and Transformation Fund (STF), a pot of money made available to NHS trusts if they meet strict performance targets.

The standards required of NHS hospitals include staying within an agreed budget called a “control total” and meeting A&E waiting time targets.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals expects to meet an agreed deficit of £14m to free up the STF money it is entitled to.

Mr Worthington said: “The trust is now confident that it will achieve its underlying control target of £14m deficit and will receive the vast majority of the STF funding which will mean that the trust ends the year with a surplus of circa £10m.”

The STF scheme has been criticised for penalising NHS trusts struggling to balance their books and meet A&E targets.

The latest forecast for the combined deficit of NHS trusts in England at the end of 2017-18 was £623m, £127m worse than planned. An update is expected to be published on Monday.

Hospital trusts are currently in talks with NHS Improvement, their financial regulator, over budget targets for 2018-19.

NHS Providers, which represents hospital trusts, has warned of extra costs facing the health service from opening extra beds and hiring agency staff to cope with a busy winter.

NHS Providers analyst Phillippa Hentsch said: “Looking ahead, we must be realistic about the financial ask of the provider sector given the tight financial settlement the NHS has been given.”