Hospital used at less than half capacity
8:32am Thu Sep 20, 2012
A hard-hitting report by the independent body that regulates NHS foundation trusts reveals that Newark Hospital is being used at less than half its capacity.
The report by Monitor, which was leaked to the Advertiser, says the hospital has been 55% under-used by Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation Trust.
Because patients are being treated elsewhere the trust is missing out on the funding for them, at a time when its accounts show it is struggling to meet massive Private Finance Initiative payments for the £366m redevelopment of King’s Mill Hospital, Sutton-in-Ashfield.
The report lists the under-utilisation of assets, including Newark Hospital, as a key issue in the trust’s difficulties in keeping up the payments.
It says that in a worst-case scenario, the trust could run out of cash in January 2013 and have to use reserves held by its bank.
Monitor has responsibility for authorising NHS foundation trusts, which means ensuring they are being well managed financially.
Monitor’s compliance board was due to meet this week.
If it finds a trust is in breach of its authorisation terms, it can demand an action plan outlining how it intends to improve, or even intervene directly in the running of the trust.
The Monitor report says the trust is in breach of its “general duty to exercise functions effectively, efficiently and economically,” and in its governance responsibilities.
It says the trust had indicated it was looking to increase the use of Newark Hospital, for example with end-of-life care.
The Advertiser last week reported on the trust’s PFI commitments.
It is due to pay £40.2m in PFI charges in 2012/13 — 16% of its income — and the charges will rise over the life of the contract in line with the Retail Price Index. The contract runs to 2043 and could eventually cost more than £2bn.
Information submitted to Monitor by the trust in response to its report acknowledges that the contract is “unaffordable.”
The trust also acknowledges that because its financial risk rating deteriorated in the first quarter of 2012/13 it was in breach of its authorisation.
The Say Yes to Newark Hospital Campaign has renewed its call for more services to be provided at Newark Hospital, saying it would benefit patients and was in the trust’s financial interest.
The campaign says the trust has lost patients from Newark to hospitals in Lincoln and Grantham.
Chairman Mr Francis Towndrow said: “If Newark was open for business 24/7 then it could be fully utilised and many patients could be treated again at a fine hospital.”
Please note: If this is your first comment on the new system, you are required to verify your email address before your comment will appear.