• Regulator investigating Lewisham and Greenwich Trust
  • Concerns over approval of 2017-18 financial plan
  • Trust denies wrongdoing
  • Lewisham and Greenwich £12.4m behind plan at the end of quarter one

NHS Improvement is investigating financial governance at a London hospital trust after management consultants raised concerns over how it produced its 2017-18 plan.

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, which runs two hospitals in the south east of the capital, is being investigated by the regulator after a report from consultants EY, HSJ has learned.

The report, produced for NHS Improvement’s national financial improvement programme, was delivered in May and raised concerns “around the process by which the trust’s 2017-18 financial plan was approved” – a document seen by HSJ said.

The letter from NHS Improvement to the trust said: “NHS Improvement is concerned about the financial governance at the trust. In particular whether appropriate steps were taken by the trust board and/or its sub-committees to assure itself over the credibility of its 2017-18 plan in November 2016, December 2016 and later in March 2017.”

Lewisham and Greenwich Trust was aiming for a year end deficit of £22.8m for 2017-18. A trust spokesman confirmed it was £12.4m behind plan at the end of July.

The spokesman said: “We are behind on our financial plan and are working internally, with the support of EY, to address the gap and maximise our savings. Following this, we will be working with NHS Improvement about the trust’s financial position.”

The regulator will make a site visit to the trust at some point after 11 September, HSJ understands.

The trust told HSJ it considers that it took appropriate steps to assure itself of the credibility of the 2017-18 plan, which was approved by its finance and investment committee, the full board, then an extraordinary meeting of the committee “with full board presence”, before it was submitted to NHS Improvement in November.

The trust spokesman said it believed it had complied with NHS Improvement’s finance and workforce policies, another area the regulator is investigating at the organisation.

A spokeswoman for NHSI said: ”NHS Improvement London region has informed Lewisham and Greenwich Trust that it is undertaking an investigation in relation to the trust’s financial governance.

“NHS Improvement will use the information gathered from the investigation to identify what format and level of support could benefit the trust and help it to address identified concerns.”

The trust also confirmed to HSJ that it has made information available to the regulator as part of its investigation.

The trust has a turnover of £539m. Chair Liz Butler stepped down in May this year, after six years and six months in the role.