Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog Watch

Magazine article Public Finance

Watchdog Watch

Article excerpt

Monitor

Health service regulator Monitor has revealed that increasing demand and funding pressures have led to foundation trust hospitals running a cumulative deficit five times higher than forecast in the first nine months of the financial year.

Its latest survey of the 149 foundation trusts, which make up nearly two-thirds of all hospital trusts, found there was an 8% increase in the number of people treated in accident and emergency departments in the last quarter of 2014, compared to the previous year.

Foundation trusts also treated more than 2.3 million non-emergency patients in the quarter, up 7%.

This is reflected in an increase to £321m in total deficits in the sector over the nine months to December 31. More than half of the trusts (78) are now in deficit and, as a group, the trusts failed to meet national waiting times targets for A&E, routine and cancer care for the third successive quarter.

The watchdog announced a review of the finances of Basildon and Thurrock Univei'sity Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust after an investigation found shortcomings in financial management. An examination is also underway at Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, where the watchdog said finances have deteriorated.

Meanwhile, Monitor revealed that the special administration process at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust took longer and cost more than planned. Sending in special administrators to run the troubled trust cost the regulator £19.5m over 18 months. This includes the cost of finding and implement a solution at Mid-Staffs and the cost of having the Trust Special Administrators run the hospitals at the same time. The work had been budgeted at £15.25m, but timescales were extended twice.

Mid Staffs also paid EY, the team supporting the trust special administrators, for professional services costing £3.55m. This woi'k was needed because the trust did not have the specialist staff required, Monitor said. The costs have been reimbursed by the Department of Health.

Rotherham

Eric Pickles has appointed Sir Derek Myers, former chief executive of the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, to lead the government's intervention into Rotherham council.

Pickles sent in five commissioners to run the authority after a review by Louise Casey, a Department for Communities and Local Government official, found it was not fit for purpose. The communities secretary said he would intei'vene because the council was not meeting best value duties.

Myers, who chaired the government's Service Transformation Challenge Panel, is lead commissioner, with the former chief executive of Barking and Dagenham, Coventry, Redditch and West Berkshire councils, Stella Manzie, as managing director commissioner.

The team also includes chidren's sei'vices troubleshooter Malcolm Newsam as commissioner for children's social care; former Greenwich council chief Mary Ney; and Julie Kenny, a businesswomen and member of the UK Commission for Employment and Skills.

Pickles set out plans to intervene in January after Casey concluded the council remained in 'resolute denial' of child sexual exploitation in the borough and was failing to protect children and young people from harm.

The commissioners will exercise all the authority's executive functions and others, in particular all licensing functions. Pickles said the intervention was likely to last until the end of the 2018/19 financial year. …

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