Monday 20 May 2024
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Nottingham

Government funds £32m extra energy bill for Nottinghamshire’s hospitals

Nottinghamshire’s two main hospital trusts are facing increased energy bills of up to £32 million.

 

The vast majority of rise is at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust (NUH), the organisation in control of Queen’s Medical Centre and the City Hospital, which needs £27m more compared with last year to keep its sites running.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals (SFH), the trust that runs King’s Mill, Newark and Mansfield Community Hospitals, is forecasting the remaining £5m rise for heating and electricity this year compared with 2021/22.

The Government is providing funding for both trusts to cover the rises, and both organisations are developing ways of reducing energy usage.

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The rises are being fuelled by the record high costs of wholesale gas, electricity and fuel, as well as soaring inflation that topped 10.1 per cent on Wednesday (August 17).

A leading finance director at NUH has confirmed the trust is receiving support from NHS England and the Treasury to cope with the pressure but said there had been a point when bosses didn’t know if they could afford the rise.

And concerns have been raised about “the great unknown” if bills continue to rise beyond this year.

Duncan Orme, NUH chief finance officer said: “The trust, along with other NHS bodies, puts contracts in place where we estimate how much energy we will need and we pre-buy at prices that are in the market at the time.

“At the beginning of the year, we were expecting not to have enough money to go and pay for those energy bills but the Treasury released additional resources for that.

“It has an impact on the trust’s welfare – but it’s similar for every member of staff who works for us, and they perhaps don’t always have the tools that we have to estimate how much they will use over the year.

“The great unknown for us is what happens in the next financial year if this carries on.”

Hospital trusts face greater pressures on running costs compared with organisations like councils due to busy sites like Queen’s Medical Centre, the City Hospital and King’s Mill Hospital operating 24 hours a day.

NUH confirmed that it has received £28m for extra energy costs this year, provided via taxpayer support from NHS England and the Treasury.

Marcus Pratt, programme director for system finance at NHS Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, confirmed the support package is in place and revealed the cost of heating the city and county’s hospitals.

He said: “Like all households across the country, the NHS is also being impacted by rising energy prices.

“Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust has planned for, and continues to forecast, an increase in budget for annual energy costs of approximately £27m compared to costs experienced in 2021/22.

“For Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, the equivalent value is approximately £5m.

“NHS England has provided additional targeted funding in 2022/23 to support these inflationary pressures and across the local healthcare system we continue to take measures to reduce our energy spend by working to be more sustainable.”

It comes as district and borough councils confirmed they are also budgeting for “significant” energy rises in the coming months.

Some authorities have contingency pots totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds to cope with the rise, with Gedling Borough Council revealing it is estimating annual fuel and energy surges of £45,000 and £110,000 respectively.

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