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Darent Valley Hospital records £13m underspend because of Covid pandemic

It has been revealed that a major hospital trust has recorded a massive underspend due to the pandemic.

Although Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust has spent £29 million coping with Covid, it has saved £13.4 million.

Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford
Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford

Bosses at Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford, say this is due to routine operations being suspended as the decks were cleared to concentrate on the virus.

Latest figures revealed at the organisation's annual general meeting also showed the human cost of the past 18 months.

Although the hospital treated and discharged 2,458 people suffering from Covid, more than 750 passed away there.

And there are challenging times ahead for the trust as it tries to get back to normal.

Chief executive Louise Ashley says workers are burdened and frustrated by the backlog in routine operations facing the NHS.

Dartford and Gravesham NHS chief executive Louise Ashley. Picture: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust
Dartford and Gravesham NHS chief executive Louise Ashley. Picture: Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust

At the start of the pandemic, many operations were cancelled to allow medics to focus on caring for Covid patients.

She said: "We had to pause our routine elective work and obviously carried on with our emergency work. That has hung very heavily on the clinicians.

"They are very driven by making people better and not being able to do that, knowing that patients are waiting at home on waiting lists, has been exceptionally frustrating.

"We are obviously going to continue to recover from the pandemic, we're still in the pandemic, but we need to recover some of our clinical services.

The pandemic started in January last year
The pandemic started in January last year

"The weight of the waiting lists hangs very heavily on all of us, particularly our clinicians, so we are working hard to keep the people on the waiting list safe and move through that as quickly as possible."

However, there is also good news with it being explained vacancy rates have dropped to their lowest-ever levels.

Despite recruitment issues facing other trusts, it currently has no positions being advertised.

Staff turnover has fallen from 16% to 10%, which management attribute to their efforts to support those working there.

Ms Ashley said it was inevitable health workers will continue to exhibit signs of post traumatic stress disorder after working through the pandemic and explained how her staff are able to access psychological support.

Coronavirus stock image
Coronavirus stock image

She went on to explain how the pandemic saw improvements in the way the trust operates, which included the establishment of a virtual outpatient appointment system and virtual visiting.

Although the Covid situation is massively improved, chief finance officer, Ian O'Connor, explained how the trust is still spending £400,000 a month dealing with just the virus.

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