Regulators have placed three more health service trusts in “special measures” today, specifically due to their poor financial performance of late.
East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust have been placed in the support regime for struggling providers.
“The financial performance of these three trusts has simply not been good enough”
Financial special measures was introduced by NHS Improvement in July when five providers were placed in the regime. It is separate from the special measures regime for trusts with care quality concerns.
NHS Improvement said today it had recently completed an investigation into financial governance at Gloucestershire and found “very serious failings”. Last month it was revealed that the trust was heading for a large unexpected deficit.
After the first five months of the year, Brighton and Sussex reported a deficit of £18m, which was £6m worse than planned. Of the adverse variance, £2.4m was due to the loss of “sustainability and transformation” funding, which is only allocated to trusts that meet their financial targets.
Its latest board report said the year-end forecast deficit is ”being reviewed and will change following board approval”. Meanwhile, East Sussex had a deficit of £23m, which was £5.7m worse than planned.
Jim Mackey, chief executive of NHS Improvement, said: “The three providers going into financial special measures are causing significant concern.
“They’ve agreed savings targets locally but are a long way from meeting them. We also need to be able to rely upon good financial governance in every provider, so the problems unearthed at Gloucestershire are a real concern,” he said in a statement.
“The financial performance of these three trusts has simply not been good enough and so we’re sending in some targeted support to identify what the problem is, and help them fix it,” said Mr Mackey.
He added that £100m of potential extra savings have been identified at the five trusts already in financial special measures.
The five trusts that went into financial special measures in July were Barts Health NHS Trust, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, North Bristol NHS Trust, and Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Earlier today the regulator also revealed a further clampdown on agency spending, though it said data collected since the introduction of its new rules on temporary staff use and pay was promising.
Over the weekend, a report from the Royal College of Midwives said that last year the NHS spent over £72m on agency, overtime and bank midwives, which it claimed was enough to solve the midwife shortage if it was spent on recruiting permanent staff – around 3,318 whole-time equivalent midwives.