East Kent Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust has been reported to the NHS Financial Regulator by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority regarding substantial “financial irregularities“.
Following a review of the information you have supplied to NHSCFA the matter was referred to our Tactical Tasking and Coordination Group to determine, from the available intelligence, the appropriate response to your referral.
The decision of the Tactical Tasking and Coordination Group is that that this matter should be reported to the Financial Regulator for NHS Foundation Trusts, NHS England.
On Thursday 7 Sept at a regular board meeting of our local hospital Trust Richard Oirschot, (pictured) a non-executive director said:
“The trust [EKHUFT] is likely to run out of cash by the end of November, unless revised forecasts are agreed with NHS England or performance changes dramatically.”
He went onto say:
“The trust’s deficit of £39 million in the first 4 months is some £8.4m worse than the planned deficit of £30.6m.
“As a result of the current adverse performance and lack of progress on the trust improvement programme delivery for 2023 – 2024, the financial plan for a deficit of £72m this year looks extremely challenging.
The report explains the organisation lost money to strikes, agency staff costs, and failure to deliver planned savings.
Michelle Stevens (pictured), the Interim Chief Finance Officer for the trust, explained at the Board meeting:
“Our current financial forecast for this year is higher than planned. To mitigate this, a number of changes have been made that will enable us to improve our productivity and improve our financial position. These measures include stricter controls on recruitment to non-clinical jobs, reducing our use of agency clinical staff significantly by recruiting permanent staff and introducing an investment oversight group to sign off any expensive purchases other than drug or essential equipment supplies.
At the end of the meeting, when the Public are allowed to ask questions. The Trust were asked:
Is there any linkage between the fact the NHS Counter Fraud Authority have reported the Trust to the NHS Financial Regulator and the growing significant deficit?
The Chair of our Trust, Niall Dickson CBE (pictured) responded by stating:
“I didn’t know we had been reported”
Then the question wasn’t really answered, as our local Trust were rather caught on the hop.
The very fact that the NHS Counter Fraud Authority chose to to report our local Trust to the NHS Financial Regulator after a review of the information supplied, shows that there are “financial irregularities” afoot in our Trust which may well be exacerbating the growing deficit; which if not brought under control, is projected to reach £130m by the end of of the year.
As far as we know, only one NHS Trust – South London NHS Healthcare Trust – has been scrapped due to the significant deficit they were running. This happened in Oct 2013.
This trust was placed into administration after accumulating debts of almost £150 million, losing about £1m a week, and it was carved up between other NHS bodies and private companies.
It’s exceedingly rare for an NHS trust to fall into such a perilous financial state, but NHS Trusts can be placed into administration, special measures, or scrapped and their functions taken up by other NHS bodies instead.
It is clear to us, those responsible for the financial tiller of our local hospital Trust, do not have significant financial control of the Trust’s money and have there work cut out to fix the serious issues they face.
Will our local Hospital Trust open an investigation into these financial irregularities – we’ll leave you to ponder that.
The Shepway Vox Team
Journalism for the People NOT the Powerful