PERFORMANCE: Southend University Hospital Foundation Trust has been found in significant breach of its FT authorisation due to governance failings on data quality and targets for cancer treatment and infection control.

Monitor said its decision was triggered by Southend’s “ongoing failure to meet cancer and C. difficile targets and by Care Quality Commission concerns which resulted in the trust being red rated for governance by Monitor in the first quarter of 2011-12”.

The trust breached the 62 day cancer wait for first treatment (urgent GP referral) target in the last quarter of 2010-11 and during the first two quarters of 2011-12. It also breached the target for 62 day cancer waits for first treatment (from consultant led screening service referral) in quarter one of 2011-12.

Additionally, the trust was judged to be at risk of failing to meet its full year C difficile target of 26 cases. By the end of the second quarter of 2011-12 it had recorded 18 cases against a “trajectory” target of 12.

Monitor also said the trust lacked an “effective system” to proactively identify and address risks and that it also had concerns about the “robustness of data” provided to the FT’s board.

The foundation trust regulator said it had concluded that the combination of breaches was “evidence of weak governance”.

In addition it noted the high level of board turnover within the last six months. A new chief executive joined the trust in February, a new nursing director in April, an interim chief operating officer in October and a chair in December.

As a result, Southend will be “kept under close scrutiny” and required to report on a regular basis against the delivery of improvements, or face formal intervention by Monitor. The trust is also required to commission an external review of its governance arrangements.

Monitor chief operating officer Stephen Hay said: “We’ve made it clear that if the trust fails to deliver timely and sustainable progress we’ll look again at whether we need to take further regulatory action.”

The foundation trust said in a statement it had responded to Monitor’s findings by “implementing a modernisation of its corporate governance arrangements”, which was being led by its new chair Alan Tobias, who joined the FT on 1 December. 

Mr Tobias added: “My first task is to ensure that we have the right corporate governance in place so that the board can work effectively on behalf of the patients and members of the trust.  I will work with colleagues and Monitor to bring our arrangements up to the highest standards.”

The trust gained foundation status in 2006.