Hospital trust falls into financial special measures as deficit reaches £30.7m

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust (ULHT), which runs Lincoln County Hospital, has been placed into financial special measures after it found itself in one of the most challenging positions in the NHS.

The Lincolnshire trust has lodged a deficit for the year to date of £30.7 million, a marked deterioration compared to last year’s financial performance.

ULHT has welcomed the special measures support enforced by NHS Improvement (NHSI), stating work is already underway on a financial recovery plan.

Deputy Chief Executive Kevin Turner recognised under-efficiency and reliance on agency staffing to fill rotas as key factors in the trust’s spiralling deficit.

He said: “The first quarter results show the extent of the financial challenge facing the NHS at the moment.

“However our own financial position has deteriorated this year, compared with last, to a point that we face one of the biggest financial challenges in the NHS.

“We therefore welcome the additional support from NHSI to help us to tackle our deficit and move towards a sustainable position for our services.

“Work is already underway on our financial recovery plan and this week we have appointed external partners to work with us over the next ten weeks to identify where and how we can make some immediate savings and to set out plans for the future.

“NHS Improvement will now appoint a director to support us to develop our plan and this will enhance the work already started with our external partners.

“We know that there are many factors which are causing the deficit, which include a lot of our services being less efficient than they could be, staffing gaps that are routinely filled with more expensive temporary (agency) staff, and the challenges of providing services over a large geographical area. Our recovery plans will need to address these factors and more.

“Patient safety remains our top priority and our intention is to ensure that this will be maintained or improved at the same time as reducing cost.”

In order to leave special measures for financial reasons providers need to demonstrate rapidly that they are returning to financial discipline, which will include developing a robust financial recovery plan.