FINANCE: The foundation’s board approved plans to pursue the establishment of a research centre despite reservations that the decision could have a negative impact on its core clinical services, board documents show.

Minutes from the board’s January meeting, released to HSJ under the freedom of information act, show two directors warned about the “opportunity cost” of establishing the centre for women’s health, in partnership with Liverpool University, on the foundation’s site.

The board had been advised that to bring the scheme to fruition the foundation would need to invest “a further £1.9m with a £170k revenue consequence”, on top of the £1m it had already invested in the scheme. It was then asked to decide whether to proceed to invest, the minutes state.

They continue: “The director of service development [Caroline Salden] highlighted the opportunity costs of proceeding which might impact negatively on core clinical services, and urged the board to be mindful of these when reaching its decision.

“The director of nursing, midwifery and patient experience echoed this point and reiterated the need to balance the positive strategic impact the development would have versus the potential negative impact on the [foundation’s] own capital plans and further pressure on cost improvement targets.”

But the minutes add that directors were also “reminded that a clear strategic aim of the trust was to be active in the field of research and development and maintain its position as a university teaching hospital”, and that choosing not to proceed “would without doubt impact negatively on the [foundation’s] reputation and its relationship with the university”.

The board resolved by unanimous vote to “proceed, with reservations” to establish the centre, with the reservations cited being the “potential impact on the [foundation’s] core clinical services.