East and North Hertfordshire Trust faces a £2m bill following its takeover of a poorly performing privately-run treatment centre, HSJ has learned.

The trust is attempting to secure funding from the NHS Trust Development Authority to cover the costs following the Lister Surgicentre, now called the treatment centre, being handed to the NHS to run.

The trust took over the centre from Clinicenta, a subsidiary of construction giant Carillion on 14 September after the centre’s management was severely criticised by the Care Quality Commission and local MPs.

A report by the trust’s finance director discussed at its board meeting last month warned that, without external support, the unexpected bill would all but wipe out the trust’s £2.1m forecast end of year surplus.  

“Whilst [discussions with the TDA are] ongoing, the trust’s year end forecast has been reduced by £2m to £0.1m, to reflect the issue,” the paper said.  

The paper said the costs comprised the transfer of staff and getting the centre into an “operational” state, as well as projected losses resulting from the centre generating less revenue than it costs to run. 

A separate report on the transfer also discussed at the meeting said: “It is understood that the centre is currently working at circa 60 per cent capacity and 56 per cent theatres utilisation…

“The move to full utilisation is being planned by the trust operational leads and daily meetings are being held with the executive team to plan and manage this transition along with the financial position.”

The CQC vowed to take action against the centre in February after an inspection report criticised “standards of quality and sustainability of management”.

The report also warned that there was “no evidence” that there was a consistent approach to identifying risk, while delays in treatment had not been addressed.

Concern was raised about the centre after three patients died following routine surgery, although an investigation concluded that they had received satisfactory care.

A trust spokesman said: “There are the one-off costs the trust has incurred as a result of the legal and logistical process of transferring the centre to the trust and getting it into a position to be operational.

“Then there are the running costs. At the moment the unit costs more to run than it generates in income because referrals reduced considerably under Clinicenta’s management.

“We need to increase the referrals to balance this. We are confident these issues will have be resolved by the end of the financial year.”