The financial management of Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is under scrutiny again following a second investigation by healthcare watchdog Monitor.

An investigation into the Trust’s finances was closed in March last year after Monitor concluded that “reasonable steps” were being undertaken to improve its financial position and financial governance.

However, the regulator was forced to launch a second investigation after the picture failed to improve, which concluded that there are reasonable grounds to suspect the Trust, which provides a range of acute and community services, “has breached its licence to provide health services”.

“It’s not just about the actual deficit, the problem is more about [the Trust’s] management of finances”, a spokesman told PharmaTimes Digital, with concerns centred around whether the board has the capability to spot potential issues early enough and adequately deal with them. 

The Trust has been ordered to develop and implement new plans to improve its financial position, and Monitor also added a further condition to its licence requiring an improvement in the performance of its board in dealing with the issues, which will allow it to take regulatory action further down the line if necessary.

Structure review

“We have already identified the need to strengthen capacity at senior level and are currently reviewing the structure of the Board to support the leadership and implementation of the recovery plan,” said Trust chief executive David Allison.

“We do however appreciate that full financial recovery will take longer to achieve, so we are working with Monitor on a strategic plan for the medium term, and perhaps more significantly we are in partnership with our commissioners developing a new economy-wide approach to healthcare to enable a fully sustainable position to be achieved for the populations we serve,” he added.