FINANCE: The NHS Trust Development Authority has challenged one of the largest teaching hospitals in the country to move ‘further and faster’ with reconfiguration plans designed to cut costs and improve care.

  • University Hospitals of Leicester forecasts £400m funding gap by 2019
  • Trust in talks with neighbours about increased collaboration to ensure sustainable services
  • Trust predicts it will need to borrow £129m to cover its deficit and ongoing capital programme for 2015-16

University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, which ended 2014-15 with a £40.6m deficit, is in the process of consolidating its estate from three major acute sites to two, alongside other service changes.

An annual report presented to members of the trust last June revealed that the provider forecasts a £400m funding gap by 2019.

University Hospitals of Leicester chief executive John Adler told HSJ: “We have been asked by the TDA to see whether we can recover financially ahead of our current strategy and we are looking at the options”.

A document presented to the trust’s board last week said: “In light of more recent key drivers, we have made some revisions to the underpinning planning assumptions driven by anticipated requirements of clinical standards [and] the challenge from the TDA to go ‘further, faster’ to reconfiguration.”

Commenting on the its intervention, a TDA spokeswoman said: “We have been reviewing the trust’s operational and strategic plans and will support them to deliver high quality care for patients and work with local health partners towards long term sustainability.

“Plans to realise benefits for local patients should be progressed within an appropriate and clinically assured timeframe. Future service delivery and reconfigurations to improve care must be underpinned by a long term financial plan which will ensure stability and security.

“We will continue to work with the trust to review their reconfiguration and financial plans.”

As part of its reconfiguration efforts the trust is exploring options for further collaborative working with neighbouring trusts.

A draft operational plan for the coming year cites a string of strategic partnerships under discussion, including a deal with Birmingham Children’s Hospital Foundation Trust for closer working on congenital heart services.

The plan also said: “We have agreed, with the support of NHS England and local commissioners in Northamptonshire, a strategic alliance for specialised services with Kettering General Hospital and Northampton General Hospital.

“The principles behind this collaboration focus on improving services and access to specialised services for patients, securing sustainable services into the future delivered locally wherever possible and sharing resources and clinical expertise between organisations.”

The plan added that demographic pressures, waiting list backlogs and previously agreed business cases will add £20m in costs for the coming financial year.

The East Midlands teaching hospital reported revenues of £770m in 2013-14.

Reconfiguration costs, quality investments and financing costs will add a further £15.4m of cost pressures, the trust’s latest finance report said.

The trust forecasts that it will need to borrow £129m to support its deficit, capital programme and improvements in working capital.