By Vivienne Russell | 29 October 2013
Monitor is to conduct an investigation into the challenges faced by small district general hospitals in their efforts to provide high quality and sustainable care.
The regular is asking for views from patients, providers, commissioners, healthcare professionals and other interested parties.
Trusts under consideration are those non-specialist providers that operate at least one acute hospital and have an annual income of £300m or less.
Monitor chief executive David Bennett said: ‘We have an important job to do in making sure that the whole sector works in the best interests of patients and understanding the pressures on small hospitals is an important part of that job.
‘Smaller acute providers are an integral part of the NHS and we want to know more about the pressures they face.’
The regulator is asking for evidence on whether smaller hospitals are facing particular difficulties in delivering services and what the nature of these difficulties might be.
It stressed that it was an exploratory, open-ended piece of research with no bias towards any particular outcome.
David Flory, chief executive of the NHS Trust Development Authority, which is working with Monitor on the project, added: ‘NHS providers will face unprecedented challenges over the next few years and it is really important that we strive to get a better understanding of any barriers they face to achieving high quality, sustainable care.
‘This important piece of work will help to contribute to our understanding of the challenges facing NHS providers so that we can work to create the conditions for them to push on and deliver improvements in care for their patients.’