'We will reveal plans to tackle hospital debts'
HEALTH chiefs at Staffordshire's biggest hospital are to give a public briefing on how they are tackling spiralling debts.
The official deficit facing the University Hospital of North Staffordshire rose to nearly £10 million last month – but can only be kept to that level if it receives bail-outs totalling £14 million from the local primary care trusts and the region's strategic health authority.
Finance director John Maddison departed as the crisis deepened and union officials for the 7,000 workforce warned jobs and salaries could be hit.
Mr Maddison had been in the role for less than a year.
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Now leaders of the trust running the hospital have pledged to give the public an update on action being taken to tackle the overspend.
Chairman John MacDonald said: "We need to keep the community abreast of how we are responding to these financial challenges so we shall be holding a press briefing on the issue shortly."
He added that the move was needed because the next public board meeting of the trust is not due until February 1 – nearly two months since the last one.
Meanwhile, Mr Maddison has been replaced by interim finance director Graham Bennett.
Much of the debt has arisen because of record numbers of patients at A&E who need to be admitted to a bed.
It forced the trust to reopen 80 beds it had planned to shut as part of a programme to shift services into the community.
The hospital could also be fined by commissioners for keeping A&E patients waiting too long.