A HOSPITAL leader says there are “tough decisions to be made” after the organisation was £1.25m in deficit just four months into the new financial year.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Trust had aimed to be in surplus of £813,000 by the end of July so is £2.1m off target.
The trust, which runs Hartlepool and North Tees university hospitals says it needs to find £15m savings this year.
But it is not the only foundation hospital trust under financial pressure.
The hospital regulator Monitor says 86 out of 147 foundation trusts are in the red.
Chief executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust Alan Foster said: “For the first time in many years we are showing a deficit.
“A major factor is that his year we have had a higher than normal reliance on agency and locum medical, nursing and allied health professional staff to cover sickness and maternity leave.”
Foundation trusts as a whole has posted a deficit for the first time of £167m compared with a planned deficit of £80 million, in the first quarter of 2014/15.
Mr Foster added: “Once again this year we have around £15m of efficiencies to find. We are taking a number of steps such as looking at the changing needs of the service and not always recruiting like for like when someone leaves.
“We’re also trying to increase our buying power to bring down the cost of the equipment and consumables we use.
“We have done much to achieve the efficiencies required of us over the years.
“We made a surplus last year which helps to fund pieces of capital equipment and we met our efficiency targets, however the longer we are required to make these levels of savings the harder they become to achieve and there are tough decisions to be made.”