New chief executive comes in as organisation faces ‘critical time’

THE Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust plunged into crisis a year ago when the regulator Monitor intervened as the huge scale of its problems became clear.

Louise Barnett

But its difficulties began as far back as 2009 when bosses selected a new electronic patient record system even though the IT programme had never been deployed in the UK and needed huge modification for the NHS.

Despite years of development, the programme failed when it went live in June 2012. Intensive work has been carried out to make it effective but it is still not fully operational.

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Alongside this, was a deterioration in the trust’s finances as it failed to make millions in savings, which was further exacerbated by the IT failure.

But a report by consultants Deloitte makes clear there were also deep-seated problems in its board which hampered decision-taking. This has been substantially remodelled, with pay-offs for four executive directors costing more than £500,000.

Monitor’s intervention led to the controversial appointment of US-led turnaround experts Bolt Partners which ran up a bill of nearly £1.5m for its services over 13 months to December. The trust had an underlying deficit of £14m by March 2013 and will be around £3.3m in the red in 2013-14. In December, it was revealed the trust would remain independent but required to deliver “significant quality and cost improvements” and earlier this week, Louise Barnett was appointed new chief executive.

New chairman Martin Havenhand said: “Throughout the process, the trust board has been clear that it was looking for a compelling and inspirational leader that would bring clarity of vision and purpose to lead the organisation at this critical time.”