FINANCE: Monitor has launched an investigation into the deterioration of finances at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals Foundation Trust.
The trust has also submitted a revised deficit plan to the regulator after it exceeded its forecast deficit at the end of October.
It reported a £10.6m deficit at the end of October, according to board papers. It had forecast a year end deficit of £6.5m and its “run rate continues to move adversely”, the papers state. It has submitted a revised year end deficit plan of £14.2m to Monitor.
Basildon and Thurrock was the first trust to be removed from special measures in June, in what was described as a “remarkable turnaround” by the health secretary.
Monitor ended all enforcement action against the trust in August, concluding that it was no longer in breach of its licence.
However, the regulator said it was “concerned” that it was “now predicting a larger financial loss this year than previously thought”.
Laura Mills, deputy regional director at Monitor, said: “Basildon and Thurrock has made great progress in improving its services for patients, but it appears to be struggling financially.
“We want to find out why the trust’s finances are deteriorating and ensure its leadership is taking appropriate action to address this challenge.”
The trust has said its deficit is partly due to the cost of improving the quality of services, such as employing more clinicians and developing estate.
It also pointed to rising patients demand and a shortage of qualified doctors and nurses necessitating a greater use of agency staff.
Trust chief executive Clare Panniker said: “This has not come as a surprise to us and we are already well underway with the work which we believe will address our current position.
“Our focus over the past two years has been on improving the quality of care we deliver to our patients – we took the decision that safety had to be our number one priority.
“However, this has come at a cost.”
Ms Panniker pointed out that “vast majority of trusts like ours are experiencing similar financial pressures”.
“The challenge for the NHS as a whole is to look at different ways of working to make it more efficient while at the same time not affecting the quality of care,” she said.