Sherwood Forest NHS Trust could 'run out of money'

King's Mill Hospital In 2006, the trust embarked on a £320m PFI expansion scheme

Health regulator Monitor is intervening in the running of a Nottinghamshire NHS trust over concerns about its finances.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is struggling to meet its private finance initiative (PFI) payments, a Monitor report has found.

The trust has also lost almost £6m in its first quarter and could run out of cash by January 2013.

The trust's chair, Tracy Doucet, said despite financial "challenges" no concerns over patient care were raised.

'Sustainable solutions'

In a statement, Ms Doucet said: "We fully acknowledge the importance of delivering our cost reduction plans.

"At the same time, however, we must ensure we can safely meet additional demand for our services and ensure we deliver efficiencies and plans at a pace which maintains safe and high quality care.

"It is clear that right across the NHS, and in particular for many District General Hospitals and those trusts with large PFI commitments, strategic and sustainable solutions will often be beyond the control of individual organisations.

"This will require the involvement of others in the local health economy. Sherwood Forest is no different in this regard."

Sacking powers

Monitor's board will now meet to decide exactly what action should be taken.

In 2006, work began on a £320m PFI expansion at King's Mill Hospital but lack of income and the hospital being "under-utilised" according to Monitor's report, means the trust is struggling to meet its repayments.

In a statement, Monitor said it had found Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in significant breach of two terms of its authorisation.

These are: "Condition 2: the general duty to exercise its functions effectively, efficiently and economically and condition 5: its governance duty."

Monitor's chief operating officer Stephen Hay added: "Monitor has stepped in because the trust's financial performance has deteriorated.

"It failed to deliver recurrent savings of £10m in the last financial year and made a £5.9m loss in quarter one this year."

Monitor's intervention powers include closing services and, in "extreme cases", sacking the entire senior management team.

Sherwood Forest was awarded foundation trust status in 2007 and serves a population of more than 400,000 people across Nottinghamshire as well as parts of Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.

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