FINANCE: Monitor has appointed accountancy firm PwC to develop a rescue package for debt-laden Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation Trust, it has emerged.

The regulator said in its response to the Public Accounts Committee’s report on Peterborough, which was published last week, that PwC had won a competitive tender to run a “contingency planning team” for the foundation trust. It said PwC consultants would work to address the underlying financial issues at the trust and develop a “long term solution”.

It said: “The [planning team] appointed by Monitor will build on the work already undertaken to diagnose and address the underlying financial issues at the Trust and will consult widely with the local health economy to find a sustainable solution for providing quality services to the people in the Peterborough area.”

Plans to send in a financial hit squad were announced in December, and mirror the approach already underway at Mid Staffordshire Foundation Trust.

The trust continues to face serious problems after it built a new hospital under one of the most costly private finance initiative deals in NHS history.

It has racked up budget deficits totalling nearly £100m over the last two years.

The Public Accounts Committee report, published earlier this month, said the “catastrophic” PFI deal had left the Department of Health with a £1m-a-week bill to keep the trust afloat.  

By the end of 2011-12, the trust will have accumulated a deficit of £45.8m on a turnover of £208m. At 22 per cent, this was the highest ratio of deficit to turnover in the NHS.

The trust’s financial position “is now so serious that, even if it achieves challenging annual savings, it will still require significant financial support of up to £26m a year for the next 30 years to remain viable,” the committee’s report said.

The report also said the strategic management of health resources across the east of England strategic health authority has “failed”.

Responding to the report at the time NHS Midlands and East said it rejected its findings and said: “The East of England does not have an over-provision of acute healthcare. Both of these NHS trusts are very busy, treating and caring for hundreds of patients every day.”