Troubled foundation trust University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay “can’t work” in the future without the reconfiguration of key services, its new chief executive has told HSJ.

Interim chief executive Eric Morton, brought in earlier this year after the care quality scandal at the trust, said clinical commissioners and trust clinicians had now begun reviews of all Morecambe Bay’s services.

They were beginning with the services that have been the focus of “adverse reports” – including maternity, paediatrics, emergency care and stroke care – with the first proposals expected to be made public within three months.

Since regulators began to intervene at Morecambe Bay, in late 2011, the trust and its commissioners have poured in additional cash to correct quality problems, and particularly to increase staffing.

Mr Morton said standards had improved and he was “reasonably confident that when the regulators come back we’ll be OK”. But that was not “sustainable for the long-term”. The trust recorded a deficit in 2011-12, and he expects it to do so for at least this year and the next.

“I don’t think in the future we can deliver services as we have delivered them in the past,” Mr Morton said. “It can’t work as it sits at the moment. That’s more than just [NHS] tariff [prices], that’s more about service configuration. It’s about sustainability of numbers, being able to deliver safe services, being able to put the right levels of staffing in.”

Morecambe Bay will submit a plan to FT regulator Monitor in the autumn, outlining its strategy for turning around the deficit over the next two to three years. Mr Morton said it was not going to be a “one-year fix”, but he would be “disappointed if we’re running a deficit in year three”.

He spoke to HSJ for our new in-depth briefing on the crises that have hit Cumbria’s acute trusts over the past two years, and the health economy’s strategy for turning them around.