£2.8m transferred to Hospital after private-patient income drops

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ALMOST £3 million has been transferred to the Hospital from the government’s General Reserve after private-patient income was lost last year due to staffing issues and bed-blocking causing delays.

A number of private surgeries had to be cancelled at short notice because of staff sickness from Covid, while some patients who were medically fit to be discharged were ‘unable to be released back into the community’, causing a lack of available beds, according to a recently published ministerial decision.

After the refurbishment of the Hospital’s main theatre, it was expected that additional income would be made through private surgeries.

However, Treasury Minister Ian Gorst had to give the Hospital £2.8m from the Island’s General Reserve due to a deficit at the end of the year.

The report explaining the ministerial decision said: ‘Surgical income is generated by treating private patients and is one of the revenue streams that supports the cost of public patient provision in the main hospital. Surgical income was expected to increase in 2022 following the refurbishment of a third main theatre. However, income has not been realised as expected due to several factors.

‘These factors have made the forecasted surgical income target unachievable and resulted in a financial deficit of £2,800,000. Funding is needed to offset this amount and thereby increase departmental net revenue expenditure.’

It added that staff and patient sickness due to Covid had resulted in cancellations for services which were ‘expensive and cannot be moved to others in a quick enough timeframe’.

Last November, it was revealed that a shortage of carers in the community was causing bed-blocking at the Hospital – with some patients waiting weeks to go home despite being medically cleared to do so. At one stage, there were 35 patients awaiting discharge after being assessed as fit enough to leave – 22 in the General Hospital and 13 within the Island’s mental-health facilities.

A few months earlier, in June, a similar situation meant as many as 50 patients were forced to remain on wards when they did not need to. At the time, Jersey’s medical director Patrick Armstrong said: ‘We are working in more difficult circumstances than we’ve seen in the past. We’ve never had so many people medically fit for discharge.’

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