COMMERCIAL: Monitor has granted Peterborough and Stamford Foundation Trust a ‘short delay’ to its planned tender for a partner to help it secure financial sustainability.

The regulator said it had sanctioned the delay after the trust, its local partners and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group asked for more time to develop “a strategic plan for the local health economy”.

However, the regulator said it had taken the action “reluctantly” and was “disappointed” by the events.

Monitor enforcement director David Hill said: “We are disappointed by this delay. The public wants NHS resources spent on treating patients, not on propping up the costs of underused buildings.

“All the parties in the local health economy signed up to the recovery plan for the trust, but at their request we have reluctantly agreed to a delay.

“The local commissioners must now act swiftly and decisively so that patients of Peterborough [City] Hospital can be reassured about the future of their health services.”

A Monitor statement added: “The lack of clarity about long term commissioning plans [of the CCG] now threatens to stall the tender, with potential bidders making clear they would demand a premium on their costs to cover the risk.”

The FT’s main site was built under a private finance initiative scheme. It is currently only able to balance its books through a £40m annual subsidy from the Department of Health.

After Monitor sent in a team of experts last year, the trust board agreed to implement a recovery plan that included inviting bids from other providers to make better use of the underutilised estate, develop new services and generate extra income.

Monitor said the delay has been granted under the following conditions:

  • The trust must take all possible steps to firm up its plans to find a partner from either the NHS or independent sector so that the tender goes ahead after 31 March 2015.
  • The trust must continue to deliver further efficiency savings to help reduce the deficit. It achieved £13m savings in 2013-14 and plans a similar sum this year.
  • Monitor has asked NHS England to help ensure the commissioners are able to deliver an adequate strategic plan for the local health economy on time.