Watchdog puts three more NHS trusts into financial special measures

18 Oct 16

Three more hospital trusts are to enter a financial special measures programme run by NHS Improvement due to “significant concerns” about their finances, the regulator has announced.

Publishing an update on the intervention regime, which was first introduced in July across five hospital trusts, NHSI said that savings worth up to £100m had been identified.

Financial special measures are available for those trusts facing significant budgetary difficulties, with the aim of quickly improving their finances. The programme provides a rapid turnaround package for trusts and foundation trusts that have either not agreed savings targets (also known as controls totals), or have planned to make savings but deviated significantly from this plan.

Trusts under financial special measures agree to a recovery plan with NHS Improvement. They also receive support from a financial improvement director – a highly experienced current or former NHS leader, or an expert in turning around major organisations.

According to NHS Improvement, the trusts already in financial special measures are “responding well.” It is anticipated some of the trusts will be released from special measures within the next few months, after they have demonstrated they are delivering their plan and achieving their milestones.

The three extra trusts entering financial special measures are East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Between them, the three organisations are forecasting a deficit of more than £73m and have failed to keep up with their agreed control totals. A recent NHS Improvement investigation into financial governance at Gloucester also revealed “very serious failings”. The regulator confirmed it would be working with the new chief executive to correct those failings “as well as improving the trust’s financial position.”

NHS improvement chief executive Jim Mackey observed that providers were adapting to financial challenges and “working flat out to meet growing demand”.

He added: “The five trusts who are already in financial special measures have responded well, and we’ve been able to work together to identify around £100m extra in savings.”

However, the three providers going into the programme were causing significant concern. In his view, the financial performance of these three trusts had “simply not been good enough” and confirmed the regulator was providing targeted support to “identify what the problem is, and help them fix it.”

“They’ve agreed savings targets locally but are a long way from meeting them,” he added. “We also need to be able to rely upon good financial governance in every provider, so the problems unearthed at Gloucestershire are a real concern.”

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