Cambridge University Hospitals called into regulator's office
PERFORMANCE: Monitor has called Cambridge University Hospitals to its offices to discuss whether the foundation trust is in significant breach of the terms of its authorisation.
The trust has been failing to meet a number of national standards, including those for referral-to-treatment and accident and emergency waiting times.
However, a report to its council of governors suggests the immediate cause of the regulator’s concern is Cambridge’s failure to treat a sufficient proportion of cancer patients within 62 days of urgent referral - a target it has missed for three consecutive quarters, triggering a red rating for governance.
In the first quarter of 2012-13 Cambridge treated 78 per cent of these patients within the time limit, against a national target of 85 per cent.
Commissioners NHS Cambridgeshire have issued the trust with a contractual notice over this performance, and the trust has been fined £104,000 for missing the 62-day cancer target in quarter one.
Monitor notified the trust in late August that its board was to attend an escalation meeting this month, to “discuss governance concerns and determine whether or not the trust is in significant breach of its authorisation”, the report states. Any formal decision to put it in breach would be taken by the Monitor board.
A CUH spokesman said it was seeing “significant increased demand” for cancer services, “especially in urology where we have experienced a 20 per cent increase from the previous year”. He added: “We have taken a number of actions – including employing surgeons and increasing theatre capacity – to ensure we get back on track, and we are confident we can meet the targets by January.”
The council of governors report adds that the trust has missed the 18 week referral-to treatment target for admitted patients in three consecutive quarters, and in every month from April to July. Missing this target in three successive quarters can also trigger an automatic red rating. Cambridge does not anticipate being able to hit the target until the final quarter of 2012-13.
For the first four months of 2012-13 the foundation trust also missed the national target for the proportion of A&E patients seen within four hours, although it exceeded the target in August.
Monitor’s move comes at a time when the trust is going through significant changes in its senior leadership. Former chief executive Gareth Goodier left in June and chief nurse Karen Castille is acting as interim chief executive. The trust has not yet announced a permanent replacement, although last month it advertised for three non-executive directors.
Long-standing chair Dame Mary Archer stands down in October and will be replaced by Jane Ramsay.