INVESTIGATIONS into the leadership and financial management of the trust that runs King’s Mill Hospital are to be carried out on the orders of health watchdog Monitor.
The regulatory body has also appointed a new interim chairman to lead the board of Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, following the shock resignation of Tracy Doucet last week.
Chris Mellor took up the post yesterday.
The trust was found in significant breach of two of its terms of authorisation last month and Monitor stepped in when it became clear that it could run out of cash in January.
It has now commissioned a series of reviews into how the trust functions - including a review of quality governance, a review of board governance, an independent external review of the trust’s financial situation and a strategic review of long-term options for financial viability.
This is in addition to the urgent inspection into breast cancer screening, pathology and clinical governance at the trust being carried out by the Care Quality Commission.
Monitor’s chief operating officer Stephen Hay said: “We are using our formal regulatory powers of intervention because we are concerned the trust has failed to get to grips with the scale of the problems it faces.
“In addition to the trust’s financial difficulties our concern about its leadership has been heightened by the disclosure that some breast cancer patients are to receive an apology from the trust and an urgent review of their treatment after an investigation into faulty pathology test results.
“The reviews we have commissioned will assess whether or not this issue was identified and dealt with sufficiently promptly.
“If either the CQC’s inspection, or the trust’s own external expert review, reveals any other matters of concern we will not hesitate to intervene again.”
Much of the trust’s financial problem centres on the PFI contract agreed to build the new King’s Mill Hospital.
It failed to deliver recurrent savings of £10m in the last financial year and lost £5.9m in quarter one of this financial year.
Interim chief executive Mark Goldman said on Monday that Monitor’s action was an ‘inevitable’ consequence of the PFI arrangement, which Monitor has stated ‘threatens the long-term financial stability of the trust’.
Dr Goldman could not rule out that a government bailout might yet be needed - but made it clear that this would also be in the form of a loan.
“Anything is possible, but for sure the hospital will continue to run and we have various options on how to manage the cash over that period,” he said.
Dr Goldman’s contract as interim CEO expires on Monday and Monitor has appointed Eric Morton to be the new interim chief executive.
It has also insisted that it is ‘fully engaged’ in securing the appointment of a permanent CEO.