'Fortunate' NHS Trust in Bristol predicts difficulty in 2016

Robert Woolley
Image caption Robert Woolley has warned of a "very difficult" year financially

An NHS chief who runs one of only two trusts in the West of England to have under spent in the last year has predicted a "very difficult" 2016.

Robert Woolley said the University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust was fortunate to have a £3.5m surplus but warned things could change.

That comes despite redevelopment of the city's Royal Infirmary and children's hospital at a cost of more than £100m.

Mr Woolley said the work had provided a financial buffer in its budget.

'Financial storm'

"As those schemes have finished over the last two to three years we've then had a buffer that has allowed us to go longer into the headwind of this financial storm," he said.

"But things are looking very very difficult, I have to say, for 2016."

He said he was not going to compromise on the quality of care offered or hospital patient safety but added there were factors driving up hospital costs.

Among them are increased demand on services from an aging population, "flatlining" investment from central government, freeing up hospital beds by releasing patients and the salaries for the workforce.

Image caption Bristol Royal Infirmary's trust is in the black despite spending £100m on redevelopment work in recent years

Figures obtained by the BBC showed that Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was the only other trust in the West Country operating with a surplus (£0.9m).

The biggest deficit in the region is managed by North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Southmead Hospital.

It is £51.6m in the red, which is almost a tenth of its total operating budget (£550m).

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