East of England's ambulance trust predicting £13.2m deficit by end of 2021/22

The data was presented to the East of England Ambulance Service Trust board on Wednesday

Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:32 am
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:35 am

Ambulance chiefs in the East of England are predicting a £13.24million deficit by the end of 2021/22.

The use of private ambulances, over-time incentives and the recruitment of additional call handlers are among the additional costs said to be facing the East of England Ambulance Service Trust.

And increases in fuel costs are said to be beginning to impact too.

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According to the latest data – presented to the East of England Ambulance Service Trust board on Wednesday, January 12, – by the end of November the 2021/22 budget was running at a £7.1m deficit.

And finance chiefs were forecasting a deficit of £13.2m by the end of the financial year, at the end of March.

“The current forecast for the end of the financial year is a deficit of £(13.2)m,” says the written report to the board.

“This deficit is due to additional expenditure measures required to manage the activity for the winter period.”

At the meeting the Trust’s director of finance and commissioning Kevin Smith said budget figures for December were still being finalised.

But he indicated that potentially the overall deficit may not reach the predicted £13.2m figure by the end of the year.

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Explaining the current deficit position, he told the board: “The principle drivers behind that deficit are the increased costs across emergency operations that we have for trying to maintain and increase our patient-facing staff.

And he particularly highlighted the number of private ambulances, over-time incentives and the increased number of call handling staff.

He also highlighted the fleet level – which is being run ‘over and above’ the base level. And he said there were beginning to see the impact of fuel increases.

Mr Smith said much of the additional costs incurred were related to Covid.

He acknowledged the £34.5m in funding received by the Trust this year for the additional costs related to Covid.

He said that the Trust expected that to be fully utilised and that it remained unclear whether that funding would continue.

Mr Smith reported that the Trust expected to spend up to its £10m capital limit by the end of the financial year (2021/22).

And he highlighted more than £2m of clinical equipment – said to be mainly defibrillators – that were expected to be delivered to the Trust by March.