• Helen Simpson received at least £72,500 as six months’ pay in lieu of notice
  • Finance director resigned from Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust after £13.4m downward revision in trust’s finances
  • Chief executive pledges to make referral to professional bodies if review finds wrongdoing at trust

A finance director at a trust which had a £13.4m downward revision to its finances was given six months pay when she resigned, it has emerged.

A finance director at a trust which made a £13.4m downward revision to its finances was given six month’s pay when she resigned, it has emerged.

On Tuesday, Gloucestershire Hospitals Foundation Trust announced that it was heading for a large, unexpected deficit. The acute trust had forecast to finish 2016-17 with a £5.3m surplus, but at the end of August it already had a deficit of £11.1m – £13.4m worse than planned for the month.

The trust’s financial position was changed after a review was triggered by “concerns raised at a number of levels within the trust about its financial position and the deterioration of its cash reserves”.

The review found that “changes to some key financial planning assumptions” had “offset an underlying loss of financial control and a failure to fully deliver improvement plans”, and the trust had spent “significantly more money developing and improving its equipment and buildings than it had available”. It was forced to take out a £20m loan to strengthen its cash position.

Gloucestershire Hospitals’ finance director, Helen Simpson, resigned last week.

It has now emerged that Ms Simpson received six months’ pay in lieu of her notice. Her salary is listed as between £145,000 and 150,000 in the trust’s 2015-16 annual report, so she would have received at least £72,500.

In an interview with ITV News, trust chief executive Deborah Lee said: “The finance director has walked away with her notice period. That’s six months’ [pay].

Ms Lee, who has led the trust since June, said: “I had a very significant debate… with the board as to whether we should resist her resignation and spend even more money seeking to do what you might consider to be the right thing.

“For me the right thing was looking forward, was making sure I can hold any individual – any individual – to account.”

The trust is commissioning an “independent financial governance review” to look at what happened and to make sure it cannot happen again, and Ms Lee said action would be taken against any people who were found not to have fulfilled their responsibilities.

“If this investigation demonstrates that any member of the trust board or the wider trust team hasn’t acted with complete professionalism within the code of conduct that they’re required to act within, then they will be investigated and if that requires referral to their professional body, then we’ll make that referral,” she said