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Barking and Dagenham NHS trust placed in financial special measures amid concerns over rapid cash-flow decline

PUBLISHED: 12:45 09 February 2018 | UPDATED: 14:48 09 February 2018

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 has been placed in financial special measures after an NHS investigation discovered “a rapid and significant deterioration” in its finances.

In November, it was reported that Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust (BHRUT), which runs Queen’s Hospital in Rom Valley Way, Romford, had to take a £15m emergency bail-out loan from NHS Improvement.

And today (Friday, February 9), NHS Improvement has announced it is placing the trust in financial special measures, meaning that specialist teams, led by an improvement director, will oversee intensive, accelerated action to bring about financial improvement across the trust.

It is important to note that this is no reflection on BHRUT’s quality of healthcare, and that it is believed no patient services will be affected.

Investigators are not yet in a position to confirm the exact size of the trust’s financial deficit.

NHS Improvement chief executive Ian Dalton said: “BHRUT has seen a significant and rapid deterioration in its financial position over the last few months.

“We are concerned about the speed and pace of this decline and so are taking quick action to prevent the financial situation getting worse.

“Our action is designed to give the trust the immediate and direct intensive support to rapidly improve its finances, while continuing to provide the safe, high quality care its patients deserve.”

In a joint statement from BHRUT’s chairman Joe Fielder and chief executive Matthew Hopkins, the trust’s leadership stressed there were a number of factors that had contributed to the disruption of its finances.

These, the pair said, included “an absence of thorough oversight, a loss of financial control, and increased demand on services”.

An ongoing contract dispute with the Havering, Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham CCGs, which are also under strict financial guidance from the NHS, has also had a negative impact.

Their joint statement on the NHS Improvement’s decision read: “This is not a reflection of the quality of care we provide.

“Our trust has made huge improvements across the board, which have been both internally and externally acknowledged by experts from NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Care Quality Commission.

“We would like to reassure the public and our patients that all our services remain open, and that we will continue to provide the very best care.

“We would like to pay tribute to our hard working and dedicated staff, who continue to do a fantastic job in providing care to our community, and we would like to thank our partners and our patients for their continued support.”

A financial improvement director has been appointed to provide the trust, which only exited healthcare-related special measures in March last year, with extra help and oversight.

The organisation will also be required to draw up and deliver a plan to improve its finances, which NHS Improvement will closely monitor.

In the 2016/17 municipal, financial special measures improved NHS finances by around £100m.

London-based audit firm Grant Thornton has led the independent review of the trust’s cash flow, and their report is scheduled to be published in around a month’s time.

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