Investigation launched into £2.3m deficit and missed waiting times at Barnsley Hospital

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SERIOUS “FINANCIAL irregularities” and missed A&E targets have prompted an investigation into a Yorkshire hospital trust,

Health regulator Monitor has launched the investigation into Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust after its financial performance deteriorated so much that it reported a deficit of £2.3m in February.

And the trust, which provides a range of services to patients in Barnsley, breached national A&E quarterly targets five times in an 18 month period

The regulator will look at whether the problems indicate wider issues with how the trust is run and examine whether it is operating in breach of its licence to provide health care services.

The announcement came just over a week after the Trust declared a serious incident into financial irregularities at the hospital.

It has also launched an internal investigation into how its finances have been managed, a spokesperson for the trust said.

Frances Shattock, regional director for the north at Monitor, said: “We expect the trust to take rapid action to address its problems whilst an investigation is ongoing. If necessary, we will not hesitate to take regulatory action.”

Barnsley central MP Dan Jarvis has spoken with Trust chief executive Diane Wake, who took over in November, about the issue and told The Yorkshire Post he had “full confidence in the current leadership at the Trust.”

He said: “I have been in regular contact with the hospital and I don’t think any of us were aware of the scale of the problem. Quite rightly the chief executive has said there needs to be an external and internal look at this. But I have full confidence in their ability to put this right.”

Mr Jarvis said that while patients would be rightly concerned about waiting times, he had been assured that figures for March were meeting the four-hour target.

He said that a newly-hired director of operations would make waiting times their priority.

“Most of the time Barnsley Hospital gets it right,” he added. “I will be looking closely to make sure progress is made.”

Wentworth and Dearne MP and former shadow health secretary John Healey launched a campaign to protect services at nearby Rotherham hospital last year after Monitor became involved.

He said: “Barnsley hospital bosses will be the first to want to get the bottom of any problems but I don’t want to see the hospital deflected from giving its full attention to patients’ services.

“Above all, I don’t want to see Tory Ministers’ new NHS market regulator Monitor forcing Barnsley hospital to pay out more than £1 million for management consultants as they did last year with Rotherham, and I want to see control of the hospital kept in the hands of people in Barnsley.”

A spokesperson for Barnsley Hospital said: “On March 31 the Trust declared a Serious Incident into financial irregularities at the Hospital. Supporting this, the Trust has also commenced both internal and external investigations into our how our finances have been managed.

“Monitor, our Regulator, has announced that it will be carrying out its own investigation into the Trust’s finances and also our performance against the national four-hour wait target. We will be working in partnership with Monitor and will be fully co-operating with its investigation.

“The Trust would like to reassure patients that services are in no way affected by its financial position and patient care continues as normal.”