With an election in sight and keen to avoid local NHS reorganisation, MPs will be watching Monitor’s contingency planning team at King’s Lynn closely

Troubled Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn Foundation Trust will be only the third where Monitor has appointed a contingency planning team to look at financial sustainability of services. It will be the first since a similar team recommended breaking up and reconfiguring Mid Staffordshire a year ago.


‘The imposition of a CPT on a trust is political dynamite at the best of times’

Queen Elizabeth King’s Lynn may be small and remote, but the move is significant given that 38 per cent of non-specialist hospital trusts in England forecast a deficit for 2013-14 , that the recommendations of all previous contingency planning teams have proven controversial, and that a general election is fast approaching.

For many financially troubled providers, their situation reflects a mismatch between their local service configuration and the set-up of the funding system.

For others there are challenges other than, or as well as, structural problems. King’s Lynn significantly increased spending to step up service quality post-Francis. Others are in the same boat.

The imposition of a CPT on a trust is political dynamite at the best of times. It will be even more volatile at a point in the electoral cycle where most MPs feel obliged to oppose NHS service change in their constituencies.

Ministers will be keen to avoid a reorganisation battle, so there will be a temptation to provide financial support to maintain the status quo. They will also be watching Monitor closely and hoping that this case isn’t followed by more in the next 13 months.