An investigation into a £7.5 million hole in Barnsley Hospital’s finances has uncovered ‘a wider issue with how the trust is being run’, the health watchdog has said.
Monitor has told bosses to draw up a plan of action setting out how they will get the trust back on a stable footing, while hospital chiefs are bringing in outside support to help balance the books and hit A&E targets.
The investigation was launched in April amid concern over the state of the trust’s finances.
“Our investigation indicated that there is a wider issue with how the trust is being run,” Monitor said.
“The trust will take action to look at what caused the problem and how it can recover and manage its finances better.”
Diane Wake, chief executive of Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Monitor have informed us of a series of steps they expect us to take following their investigation into the trust. These include producing a robust two-year turnaround plan outlining how we will improve our financial and operational performance and a review of our governance structures.
“We take Monitor’s findings extremely seriously and will be working closely with them to ensure that we carry out all of the actions they require.”
She added: “We have already taken action to improve the way we are run. In January I instigated a thorough external review of our governance structures and an internal review of our operational structures across the whole organisation, and improvements are now being made as a result of this.
“We have also taken swift action to improve our financial position. We have consulted with staff over ways we can save money and have put numerous cost savings measures in place. We are confident in our ability to deliver the turnaround plan and to turn our financial position around.”
In the last 18 months, the hospital had five breaches of the national target to see 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours.
Ms Wake said: “Operationally, we met the national four-hour target in March, April and May following changes to the way we work. We are now consistently meeting the target on a day-to-day basis and are working to sustain this over the longer term.
“I want to reassure people that quality patient care remains absolutely paramount and our services are not affected by our financial position.”
Frances Shattock, regional director at Monitor, said: “It is worrying that the trust’s finances have worsened so suddenly and that the problem was not nipped in the bud. The trust is now taking action to make sure that it recovers its finances and that it has strong leadership in place to make the improvements needed.
“It is also unacceptable that patients in Barnsley have been waiting too long to be seen in A&E. Although the trust has taken action to cut waiting times we want to make sure this improvement is maintained.
“We will continue to hold the trust to account to make sure it is working well for patients, and will take further action if improvements are not made.”