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  1. ITV Report

Hospital trusts accused of 'hoarding' more than £130m instead of spending cash on patient care

Five NHS trusts in the Midlands have come under fire for "hoarding" cash in banks instead of spending it on patient care, after it emerged bosses were sitting on more than £134 million of unspent income.

The trusts have been criticised for not spending the money on patient care Credit: PA

While neighbouring trusts struggle to make ends meet, The Royal Wolverhampton Trust, Dudley Group of Hospitals, Walsall Healthcare Trust, Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust and West Midlands Ambulance Service all operated on a surplus last year, with millions more kept in the bank, according to figures uncovered by Midlands-based daily paper the Express & Star.

South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson accused health chiefs of hoarding money which could be invested in patient care.

What this highlights is that the money is there - but we need to question if it is being spent in the right way?

The question that has to be asked of trust chief executives is why this money is not being used for patient care? We don't want hospitals hoarding huge amounts of money.

The main priority has been to put money into frontline services. I think patients and staff across Staffordshire and the Black Country would be shocked to learn the sums of unspent money in the NHS.

– Gavin Williamson MP (Con)
The Royal Wolverhampton Hospital Trust, which runs the city's New Cross Hospital, reportedly has tens of millions sitting in the bank Credit: PA

The figures also show that other hospitals in the region are struggling with huge overspends.

The now-defunct Mid-Staffordshire trust broke its budget by £24.8m in the year before it was dissolved by its Special Administrators, while the University Hospital of North Stafforshire (UHNS) - which has shouldered much of the burden of the move - overspent by around £19m, with just £1.5m left in the bank at the end of the year.

UHNS financial director, Chris Adcock, admitted the trust was facing a "tough financial challenge", but vowed the trust would not compromise patient care.

Russells Hall Hospital in Dudley, which is run by the Dudley Group of Hospitals Credit: Google Maps

By comparison, the Royal Wolverhampton Trust, which now runs Cannock Hospital after Mid-Staffordshire was dissolved, has recorded surpluses for eight years in a row worth around £61m, with £34.4m still on the books.

Dudley Group, which runs Russells Hall Hospital in the borough, was £26m in the black at the end of the year after operating at a surplus of £351,000.

£34.4m
Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust
£26m
Dudley Group of Hospitals
£10.5m
Walsall Healthcare Trust
£42m
Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals Trust
£20m
West Midlands Ambulance Service

Walsall Healthcare Trust ran a surplus of £12.2m, with £10.5m still in the bank at the end of the year.

And Sandwell and West Birmingham Trust made a £6.75million surplus, with £42m still in its accounts at the end of the year.

Meanwhile, West Midlands Ambulance Service was £2.5million in the black, and had a total of £20million in the bank - even after paying off a number of debts.

Walsall Manor Hospital Credit: Google Maps
Sandwell General Hospital Credit: Google Maps

It comes as accident and emergency units across the country struggle to hit targets for patient care, as hospital bosses warn they are reaching breaking point due to unprecedented demand.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said it kept cash in reserve to cover "unforseen" events.

The trust has managed to pay off its creditors and no longer has any debts.

The cost of renewing and increasing the fleet of rapid response vehicles and ambulances and recruiting new staff are now being paid for without the need for the trust to take out loans on which we would have paid interest.

Beyond that there is a small reserve to cover any unforeseen event.

– West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman