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Barking and Dagenham hospital trust’s finances under investigation after taking £15m emergency loan from the NHS

PUBLISHED: 16:12 03 November 2017 | UPDATED: 16:20 03 November 2017

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Queen's Hospital, flagship hospital of the Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

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Barking and Dagenham’s hospital trust is having its finances formally investigated by the NHS after it was forced to take out a £15m bail-out loan from the NHS.

Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford, and King George Hospital in Goodmayes, required the emergency funds after racking up a number of bills to non-NHS suppliers that had been outstanding for more than 90 days.

The Post understands that some suppliers have even threatened to take the trust to court over the unpaid bills.

An NHS Improvement spokeswoman confirmed the organisation had opened a formal investigation into BHRUT’s finances, and that London-based audit firm Grant Thornton would be leading the independent review of the trust’s cash flow.

She added: “This kind of investigation is a key element of our role as a regulator, and will take into account the work and findings of the review being carried out by Grant Thornton, with whom we will be working closely.

“To avoid any perception of conflict of interest, the work is being led by a team independent of the NHS Improvement London region.”

In board papers published after the trust’s last governance meeting on October 31, a finance report painted a bleak picture.

The report, presented by BHRUT’s acting director of finance and investment, Steve Collins, explored a worst-case scenario where the hospital trust found itself £30.3m in debt if £20m of expected income was disputed by healthcare commissioners.

It read: “The trust’s trading position continues to place extreme pressure on the cash position, with quarterly PFI payment due in early October.

“The trust has requested loan support finance to pay aged creditors.

“The trust is urgently reviewing its financial management and future cash requirements.”

Matthew Hopkins, BHRUT chief executive, said the trust had “had a particular challenge this year”.

He added: “We have recently uncovered a significant short-term cash flow issue within our trust.

“We have taken prompt action to resolve the situation, and have secured a loan from our regulator, NHS Improvement to do this.”

Mr Hopkins went on to stress that the problems had had no impact on patient safety, and that no treatments or operations were affected.

“We are very aware however, of the impact this has had in some circumstances on our local suppliers and partners,” he said.

“We value them greatly. We would like to thank all our suppliers and partners for their continued support and patience, in helping us care for our patients - we couldn’t do our work without them.

“We have already resolved many of the outstanding payments, and will be taking steps to deal with the remainder as soon as possible.”

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