• Dartford and Gravesham Trust to miss financial plan for fourth successive year
  • Now forecasting a £20m deficit, which is £15m worse than planned
  • Recovery plan is being drawn up

An acute trust in Kent has admitted it will miss its financial plan for the fourth year in a row.

In a paper to the local council, Louise Ashley, the new chief executive of Dartford and Gravesham Trust, said the provider is now forecasting a deficit of £20.4m for 2018-19, which is £15m worse than the “control total” it previously signed up to.

At the start of the year, the trust accepted a control total deficit of £5.1m from NHS Improvement, but has had to reforecast after being £9m overspent after six months.

The expected year end position will include the loss of around £5m of “provider sustainability funding”, which means the underlying financial plan would be missed by around £10m.

The trust has struggled with its cost improvement programme, where it planned to save £13.8m but delivered just £3.8m at the mid year point. It has also already spent up to its ceiling for agency spend for the year of £5.1m.

In a statement, the trust said: “The trust set itself a challenging savings target for 2018-19. This, plus other cost pressures, has resulted in a forecast deficit. Based upon our financial performance to month six we are now projecting for 2018-19 a forecast deficit of £20.4m before any PSF. We are developing a financial recovery plan.”

Ms Ashley took over the trust in mid October, after a period where Gerard Sammon had been interim chief executive following the departure of Susan Acott to run East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust.

The trust’s September board papers said it was still forecasting to meet its control total even though its deficit was at £6.4m after five months.

In 2017-18, the trust planned for a £1.6m surplus but ended the year £18.6m in deficit. In 2016-17, it planned a £6m surplus and reported a £300k deficit, and, in 2015-16, it was £8m in the red, against the planned £6m deficit.