FINANCE: Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust has identified a £7m funding gap caused by a large backlog of patients requiring elective treatment.

The backlog of patients waiting more than 18 weeks for treatment was discovered in September.

But despite coming up with an estimate of the cost of clearing the backlog - some £11.1m - the trust remains unable to say how many patients are involved.

Commissioners have already provided £4m, leaving a remaining funding gap of £7m.

Discussions are now underway between the trust, commissioners, the NHS Trust Development Authority and NHS England to decide how the rest of the work will be funded.

In the minutes for the trust’s October board meeting it identified the funding shortfall as a risk because clinical commissioning groups had not “budgeted for the increase in activity now required”.

The trust has sent 1,225 patients to have their operations with a private provider, with plans to send another 1,500 patients.

Deputy chief executive Steve Russell said: “Earlier this year we confirmed that we have a backlog of patients who have waited more than 18 weeks to be admitted for treatment.

“This is unacceptable so we have been working tirelessly to reduce the backlog.

“We are doing this by putting in place additional capacity in our theatres to treat more patients and arranging for some patients to have their operations at the Independent Sector Treatment Centre based at King George Hospital.

“Our priority remains ensuring our patients receive their care as quickly as possible and getting a tighter grip on our processes to ensure this does not happen again.”