• Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust denied winter funding
  • Trust’s chief has warned patients will suffer as funding could have prevented corridor waits
  • Providers required to spend accident and emergency winter funding by December as part of conditions, HSJ understands 

A chief executive has criticised regulators for refusing to release winter capital, after her trust said it could not meet conditions attached to the funding.

Mid Cheshire Hospitals Foundation Trust has been denied £1.4m in capital funding for winter after the provider told NHS Improvement it could not meet a requirement to reduce its four hour waiting time breaches by 50 per cent.

In September, the government announced it was awarding £145m in capital to NHS trusts to upgrade wards and accident and emergency departments. Mid Cheshire Hospitals FT was initially successful in its bid. The capital was intended to fund a portable ward next to the trust’s A&E, which would have increased the department’s capacity over winter.

However, according to the trust’s chief, Tracy Bullock, the regulator has since said the provider will not be receiving the money as it refused to agree to three conditions, including the 50 per cent reduction in four hour breaches over winter.

Ms Bullock told HSJ: “The concern we have as a trust is that this [portable building], even if it didn’t deliver performance improvement, would’ve provided a more dignified space for patients to wait rather than on corridor in the A&E.

“We would’ve seen some performance improvement, but less than what was indicated [by the regulator].

“The only people that are going to suffer from this are our patients who are going to have to wait in a corridor.”

According to Ms Bullock, a large proportion of the trust’s waiting time breaches are due to lack of space within its A&E. In the second quarter of this year, the trust saw 79 per cent of type one patients within four hours and 85 per cent of all other patient types.

HSJ understands there were several conditions the trust had to agree before funding was released. Although the trust agreed to the majority, it also refused to meet a requirement to have the project completed and money spent by December, and for 2018-19 financial plans to remain unaffected.

A spokeswoman for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “Funding was made available for measures which would help NHS staff to manage additional pressure and maintain performance for patients over winter, and the application from mid-Cheshire did not meet these criteria.”

Story has been updated to include the statement from NHSE and NHSI, which was received after the deadline.