Lack of money is no excuse for poor care, the health secretary has insisted after HSJ analysis revealed trusts placed in special measures following the Keogh review predict a collective deficit of almost £140m this year.

According to HSJ analysis, five of the 11 special measures trusts plan to end 2014-15 with deficits equivalent of between 10 and 12 per cent of their turnover.

Many cite extra investment in nursing to improve the quality of care as a key driver of their financial position.

Asked by HSJ whether this demonstrated those organisations needed extra funding to be sustainable, Mr Hunt said “the path to lower cost and the path to safer care are [the] same paths”.

He accepted ensuring wards were “properly staffed” could have a “short term implication” on finances but safer care would in the longer term cut costs.

Jeremy Hunt

The health secretary said the new regulatory regime was a ‘good investment’

“There are financial pressures all over the NHS [but] the safest trusts have the best financial [performance]. Money should never be an excuse,” he added.

The health secretary urged trusts to consider whether they were making the most effective use of nursing staff as well as whether they needed more.

Mr Hunt was speaking to HSJ to mark a year on from the introduction of special measures for failing hospitals – and the successful exit of five of the 11 organisations from the additional regulatory scrutiny.

The new regulatory regime has been accompanied by an additional £70m in funding for the three regulators that oversee it – the Care Quality Commission, Monitor and the NHS Trust development Authority.

Asked whether he thought this was value for money Mr Hunt said it was a “good investment”.

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