Monitor will scrutinise foundation trusts more closely by requiring monthly finance reports, as pressure on NHS finances grows.
The regulator has agreed with the Department of Health that a monthly forecast year end outturn report will be required detailing every foundation trust’s surplus or deficit position, and capital expenditure on an accruals basis.
Previously, only foundation trusts that had financial problems were required to provide monthly updates.
A DH spokeswoman said it had a “statutory responsibility” to keep track of its spending on a monthly basis and “asking Monitor to provide monthly finance forecasts brings the FT sector in line with the rest of the health and social care system”.
A letter sent out to all foundation trusts from Jason Dorsett, Monitor’s finance, reporting and risk director, outlined the “emerging signs of pressure on NHS finances during the current financial year”.
Foundation trusts have been asked to provide monthly financial information, starting from August’s data.
In the letter Mr Dorsett said: “Monitor has established processes for collecting financial information from foundation trusts to determine if there is a risk of providers breaching their licence.
“However, this information is not sufficient for Monitor or the Department of Health to be able to estimate the aggregate year end outturn for foundation trusts and their impact of the consolidated financial position of the DH Group.”
“The information will assist Monitor and DH in ensuring that the annual revenue and capital expenditure of the NHS remain with the limits set by parliamentary votes.
“However, the information will not be used to trigger regulatory investigations which will continue to be based on quarterly returns with the expectation that Monitor would be notified by exception of significant problems emerging in quarter.”
A spokesman for Monitor said: “The new process for collecting regular data from foundation trusts will enable us to get a real-time understanding of the financial pressures they are facing and the implications for their budgets.”