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12 September 2013, 12:00
The UK's Health provider's watchdog Monitor - has secured agreement the from Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to implement a financial recovery plan.
The health sector regulator is confident that the current trust board and management team can deliver the plan - aimed at closing an annual £40m financial gap and securing vital services for patients... and continue to provide the services local people value.
Under the plan both Peterborough City Hospital and Stamford and Rutland Hospital will remain open and continue to provide all major services.
Dr David Bennett, Chair and CEO of Monitor told Heart: "The problems at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are severe - it is only able to provide services to patients due to emergency funding from the Department of Health."
The Department of Health is currently providing £40m of additional support to the trust each year so that it can balance its books and continue to fund all the services local people need. Half of this cash injection is because the trust is relatively inefficient in some areas and because it isn't getting paid for all the work it does. The other half of the cash injection relates to a costly 35-year private finance scheme undertaken by previous trust management to build Peterborough City Hospital. Monitor raised concerns about the affordability of the PFI at the time.
Although the trust has been confirmed as clinically and operationally sustainable, Peterborough City Hospital is among the most expensive NHS hospitals to run for its size. It has under-utilised space, including much of its fourth floor, which is currently used as office space, but was designed to be fitted out with clinical beds.
Over the last few months, a team of experts appointed by the health sector regulator has been discussing possible solutions to the trust's financial difficulties with key players in the local health economy. After examining dozens of possible options, the expert team advised Monitor that there was no silver bullet, but proposed a four point recovery plan which would enable high quality services to be provided into the future.
The recovery plan, which would take five years to fully implement, involves:
Monitor and the trust board have accepted these proposals, and Monitor has confidence the trust board will deliver them. However, Monitor retains the power to take further regulatory action should the trust be unable to deliver on its commitments.
Dr David Bennett, Chair and CEO of Monitor added: "The plans proposed by the team of experts we sent in, which the trust has committed to implement, represent the best possible answer to an otherwise intractable financial problem.
It secures services for patients in the long run, and also offers the opportunity for new treatments and services to be developed in the future."