More Trusts In Financial Difficulty

A Number Of NHS Trusts Have Been Referred By The Audit Commission After Financial Issues Were Found


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
A group of NHS Trusts have been referred to ministers after the Audit Commission found financial issues that could lead to debt or bankruptcy.

The body reviewed the balance books of 98 organisations that run a combination of hospital, community and ambulance services and found that 19 do not have robust plans in place to ensure deep financial issues are avoided.

Although the majority of trusts were found to have sound management, the number was a four-fold rise from the five that were referred in 2013, reports the BBC.

The news follows a finding from the Nuffield Trust, which warned that as many as a quarter of all trusts across the country finished the year in deficit.

However, this figure included all 250 trusts across the NHS, meaning that smaller organisations - including local mental health organisations - were figured into the calculation.

Health minister Jeremy Hunt will now look into the Audit Commission's findings and liaise closely with the Trusts in question to make sure that the financial issues seen at some high profile failing organisations - including the Mid Stafford Trust - are not repeated.

Those found to be in breach of the Audit Commission's conditions included the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust and the George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust.

In a statement released by the Department of Health, a spokesperson said it is important that all trust chief executives "live within their means" and keep a "tight financial grip" on their hospitals' operations.

Patient groups have repeatedly expressed frustration with the financial affairs of some NHS bodies, as there has previously been a correlation between money difficulties and patient safety issues.

One of the most obvious examples of this was at the Stafford Hospital, where a staff shortage caused a myriad of issues for inpatients and was found to have contributed to the deaths of hundreds of people.

Expert Opinion
While the majority of NHS Trusts were found to be operating under sound management by the Audit Commission, the fact that 19 Trusts do not have robust plans in place to avoid deep financial issues, is extremely troubling. The main concern is that the quality of patient care may be negatively impacted should financial issues impact the way an NHS Trust is run.

“It is vital patients attending hospital and medical facilities within the 19 NHS Trusts that do not have clear plans to prevent financial difficulty are reassured that the standard of their treatment will not be impacted by the cutting of budgets, as cost cutting measures at some hospitals have resulted in a reduction of staff numbers and a fall in patient safety standards.
Julie Lewis, Partner