Health bosses still on the lookout for savings
HEALTH bosses getting to grips with their finances are looking for new saving schemes to balance the books.
They say they have to find more ways of cutting down costs in order to prevent an overspend at the end of the year.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University (ABMU) Health Board have already reduced overtime costs and the use of expensive agency staff and bank staff to make savings.
Finance director Eifion Williams gave details of the cash-flow situation to health board members yesterday.
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He said that by the end of July the total overspend was £7.468 million.
It means that the health board has spent more than they should have by that period within the year.
But Mr Williams said the overspend for the month of July was at a reduced level in comparison to previous months.
Members heard that the overspend levels came from unscheduled care and trauma service pressures during the early months of this financial year.
"The expenditure for the first three months of the year was higher than was planned, and was higher than previous years," he said.
"For July we saw a reduction in the overspend trend in the health board.
"We must make sure the improvement continues for all the months for the rest of the year.
"We will soon have the picture for August to see if these improvements have continued in August and we will report back to the health board."
But Mr Williams said they needed to make other savings across the health board to prevent having an overspend at the end of the year.
"Until we find sufficient saving schemes we will have an overspend," he said.
Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board has to save £45 million this year just to break even.
Chairman Win Griffiths said they were facing a difficult economic situation.
He said: "It is a very significant challenge for us."
Vice-chair Dr Ed Roberts said that in response to the reduction of agency and bank workers he had a concern about how staff would cope.
"I understand the need to look at costs but if staff are stretched and are working extensively hard, as they are in many departments, when they are stretched sometimes sickness levels increase," he said.
"I understand the reasons behind this but I am concerned about how we manage staff."
Mr Williams explained that they have introduced different ways of working which use staff more effectively and decrease the need for nurse agency and bank staff.
An ABMU spokeswoman added: "Our latest figures, due out later this week, are expected to show that compared with August of 2011, the use of agency staff in August 2012 was down by 90 per cent as we get to grips with managing this overspend.
"Across ABMU, staff have identified cost improvement programmes (CIPs) which are aimed at cutting waste and improving efficiency, and these are helping to fund the new costs and service pressures."