Earlier this year the East Kent Hospital University Foundation Trust Non Executive Director for People and Culture and the Vice Chair – Stewart Baird (pictured) said in a confidential Governor liaison meeting that “I am deeply concerned about fraud at the Trust” and went on to detail how he’d been told that the Trust were “writing off around £72m” and this was being marked down rather simply as “fraud” – no further description was available when asked.
The Chief Exec of the Trust, Tracey Fletcher, was asked at an all-staff forum meeting what she knew about this fraud being written off. Mrs Fletcher declined to answer and said she would reach out to Governors via email – she did not follow up – quelle surprise.
Back in mid-September we reported the Trust had been reported to the NHS Financial Regulator and NHS England, by the NHS Counter Fraud Authority for “financial irregularities”
Now it was reported yesterday, “by the end of September, the trust had overspent by a total of £14.4 million, with its deficit standing at £50.3 million, compared to the £35.9 million it was meant to be at this point in the year.” If the Trust continue to spend at this rate it will run out of money by the end of November.
It is an established fact the Trust had serious and significant cash flow issues in 2022/23, and that these no doubt have grown considerably worse given the level of the Trust’s deficit.
In the Sept Board meeting the following question was asked:
‘Why did the Trust agree to a £72m deficit when this clearly appeared to be unreachable, and whether there was any linkage between the fact the NHS Counter Fraud Authority had reported the Trust to the NHS Financial Regulator and the growing significant deficit. Given the Trust had such a significant deficit, would there be job cuts’.
Initially the then chair, Nial Dickson was “unaware” the Trust had been reported to the NHS Financial Regulator. Then the Interim CFO responded by saying the initial 2023/24 financial plan had been a £93m deficit and were challenged nationally to review and reduce this expected deficit. The Trust was also required to provide a future projected breakeven plan against its submitted and agreed £72m deficit plan, recognising the challenges in achieving this annual plan. She reiterated reviews would be undertaken of the Trust’s workforce, emphasising its reliance on bank and agency staff that would be areas that would be reviewed in the first instance.
One notes the interim CFO failed to address the fact the Trust had been reported to the NHS Financial Regulator for “financial irregularities“
Mr Baird is currently the acting chair of the Trust as Nial Dickson (pictured) has taken a leave of absence regarding allegations of sexual misconduct.
It is time our Trust was put into special measures, as wherever one turns it seems mired in scandal and controversy. The people of East Kent deserve a Trust which will serve them well, deliver excellent healthcare and have a Trust free from fraud and financial irregularities.
The Shepway Vox Team
Dissent is NOT a Crime