NHS Improvement has authorised a tranche of financial support projects, ending a mini-drought in trusts tendering for management consultancy.

HSJ understands NHSI had not allowed many trusts to tender for consultancy support for their saving plans for around 18 months, before a slew recently went to the market. Since 2016, NHSI has had to sign-off any consultancy spend over £50,000 by trusts, and by foundation trusts receiving central bailout funds.

In the first quarter of 2018-19, £2.7m of financial support and turnaround consultancy was approved, compared to £5.7m in quarter one of 2017-18. HSJ was told spend had been even lower since quarter one 2018-19. 

Invitations to tender were submitted by Bedford Hospital Trust, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn Foundation Trust, and a trust on Tyneside in the north east, over the past four months, HSJ understands, having been approved by NHSI. Bedford appointed BDO LLP in December, a spokeswoman confirmed.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn has seen its forecast deficit for this year soar to £37.6m from an earlier target of £9.7m. It has a turnover of £186m. Bedford Hospital Trust, which has a turnover of £205m, is now predicting a year-end deficit of £17.1m against its initial forecast of £6.7m.

One senior consultant said the recent invitations to tender were “a tacit acknowledgement by NHS Improvement that the problem is about to get worse”.

The news comes after quarter three data showed a number of trusts now predicting significantly worse year-end deficit positions. The acute sector is now predicting a year-end deficit of £2.4bn, £907m worse than it had forecast.

NHSI has been approached for comment.

Twenty trusts are now predicting a year-end financial position which is at least £15m worse than they originally forecast. They are: 

  • Barts Health Trust
  • King’s College Hospital FT
  • St George’s University Hospitals FT
  • The Hillingdon Hospitals FT
  • East and North Hertfordshire Trust
  • North West Anglia FT
  • Nottingham University Hospitals Trust
  • The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn FT
  • United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust
  • University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust
  • University Hospitals of Derby and Burton FT
  • University Hospitals of Leicester Trust
  • Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust
  • Gateshead Health FT
  • St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals Trust
  • Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust
  • Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare Trust
  • Queen Victoria Hospital FT
  • University Hospitals Plymouth Trust