Foundation trusts ‘not immune from NHS financial pressures’
By Vivienne Russell | 19 September 2012
Foundation trusts should no longer be regarded as an ‘elite band of premier hospitals’ and more could get into financial difficulty, the head of the regulator Monitor said yesterday.
Giving evidence to the Commons Public Accounts Committee, David Bennett, who is both chair and interim chief executive of Monitor, said that 11 FTs were currently in serious financial trouble and would not achieve foundation status if they were assessed today.
In a statement issued after the session, Bennett said the struggling trusts represented fewer than one in 10 of the 144 FTs.
He added: ‘In circumstances where we have an increasing number of foundation trusts, and foundation freedoms increasingly become the norm, we might expect more FTs to get into difficulties. FTs are not immune from the financial pressures facing all NHS organisations.
‘Our job is to ensure that foundation hospitals are well run and financially viable, and we often intervene behind the scenes to tackle problems promptly and prevent them from escalating. However, in a handful of cases, trusts have run into serious difficulties and need external help to get back on an even keel.’
Responding to the comments Bennett made during the PAC session, Chris Hopson, chief executive of the Foundation Trust Network, said: ‘The issue is what we do now to help those trust boards improve their financial viability.
‘That requires Monitor, the rest of the NHS in the relevant local area and politicians to support plans that will involve difficult and unpopular changes.’
The 11 FTs in significant breach of their authorisation on financial grounds are: Burton Hospitals; Derby Hospitals; Gloucestershire Hospitals; Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals; Medway; Mid Staffordshire; Milton Keynes Hospital; Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals; Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kings Lynn; the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases (Bath); and Tameside Hospital in Greater Manchester.