• No national funding has been given to the turnaround work at Pennine Acute Hospitals
  • Similar turnaround efforts have received significant financial support from the Department of Health
  • Leaders say “best deal possible” will be reached for 2017-18

Leaders in Greater Manchester have said they need to be “realistic” about the level of central support offered to the turnaround efforts at Pennine Acute Hospitals Trust.

The provider, which was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission in August and has severe problems within its maternity services, has been subject to a leadership takeover by Salford Royal Foundation Trust as part of its “hospital chain”.

Jon rouse

Jon Rouse

Jon Rouse said a merger was a ‘legitimate part of discussions on the future of Pennine Acute’

Similar turnaround efforts have received significant financial support from the Department of Health, such as the acquisition of Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals FT by Frimley Health FT in 2014. Frimley Health will receive £90m in revenue support that does not have to be repaid, as well as £130m of capital funding, according to DH documents.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt recently acknowledged that improving Pennine Acute would be an “incredibly difficult job”, but suggested it was possible after citing the example of Frimley Health.

However, no national funding has been given to the turnaround work at Pennine Acute, despite it being a much larger trust than Heatherwood and Wexham Park, with four separate hospital sites. It has an underlying deficit of £35m this year, and an estate that needs extensive redevelopment. Salford Royal is £15m in the red.

However, Pennine Acute has been given an extra £9m from its local clinical commissioning groups in 2016-17.

HSJ asked Jon Rouse, the chief officer of Greater Manchester’s health and social care devolution team, about this issue in a recent interview, and he said: “We’re in different times. Of course we’d love to have the types of resources that other turnaround trusts have benefited from, but we’re realistic about the reality we’re in.

“We constructed the best deal we could for 2016-17, we’ll have to do the same for 2017-18 and onwards. But Sir David [Dalton, chief executive of both trusts] will not take on something he can’t deliver. We’re not going to be seeing the sort of sums we’ve seen in previous turnarounds, we’re just not in that world any more.

“We are committed not only to turning around that trust but getting to a pretty high level of performance. That isn’t going to be done overnight. There are some deep rooted cultural issues and changes that need to be made.

“There are significant weaknesses in services that have got to be addressed and an underlying environmental issue, particularly at North Manchester General Hospital, which is going to require, over time, a significant building programme as well.”

Neither the DH nor NHS Improvement responded to questions about any potential funding support for the trust.

Bury, Oldham, North Manchester, and Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale CCGs said in a joint statement: “Given the critical stage we’re at in negotiation of 2017-19 contracts, it would be inappropriate to give details regarding levels of ongoing support.”

Asked if Salford Royal would consider a full acquisition of Pennine Acute, Mr Rouse said: “Let’s wait and see how that evolves. That question is a legitimate part of discussions in terms of the future of Pennine Acute.”

Devo Manc leaders seek 'best deal' for trust turnaround