QA boss reassures patients as Cosham hospital expects £36.8m deficit

QA Hospital
QA Hospital
QA Hospital, Cosham

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THE chief executive of a hospital trust expected to make a deficit of almost £37m this year has said patient safety will not be compromised as it works to address financial problems.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham, revealed yesterday it has forecasted a loss of more than £36.8m.

I have no doubt there will be some difficult choices ahead, but my board colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that patient care will not be compromised to make savings.

Mark Cubbon

Mark Cubbon, chief executive, said no redundancies will be made, services and staff will not be cut and patient care will not be compromised.

PHT had hoped to make a £9m surplus, but a series of failings saw it record the huge deficit.

The hospital admitted:

A lack of clear vision and strategy for the organisation and instability in the executive team and trust board led to a failure to look beyond the short-term.

The board historically was more focused on operational rather than strategic issues and trust finances were not a significant item on the board agenda.

A culture across the trust in which finances have not been prioritised or effectively owned.

Historical investments being made which were not adequately supported by a business case or a strong evidence base.

Mr Cubbon said: ‘The figure is significantly larger than we would like and the challenge to bring our finances back on to a sustainable footing should not be underestimated. However it is our firm belief that it can and will be delivered.

‘We all need to live within our means and as an NHS trust we have a duty to our patients, our partners and our community to make sure every penny is spent wisely.

‘The responsibility to return the organisation back to financial health rests with us. I have no doubt there will be some difficult choices ahead, but my board colleagues and I are committed to ensuring that patient care will not be compromised to make savings.

‘Instead we will be focusing on ensuring that there is greater rigour and control over how and where our money is spent.’

When Mr Cubbon became chief executive on July 31 last year, NHS Improvement launched an investigation at the hospital.

Back then Mr Cubbon said one of his priorities was to improve the hospital’s financial position.

Since then a number of changes have been made to the trust’s board and Mr Cubbon said there would be a ‘renewed focus’ on a financial recovery programme.

He added: ‘The programme will revisit all major investments and appoint a financial turnaround director supported by independent financial advisers to focus on returning the trust to financial sustainability.’

Recently-appointed health minister Caroline Dinenage said the financial woes needed to be addressed.

The Gosport MP, who is now one of health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt’s deputies, claimed she would speak to bosses at QA.

She added: ‘Patient safety is the greatest priority and anything that could impact on this is obviously of concern.

‘I’ll be speaking to the new team at QA to see what plans are in place to address this and what local MPs can do to support the hospital.’

Suella Fernandes, Fareham MP, said the revelation was worrying and that action needed to be taken.

She said: ‘The situation facing Queen Alexandra is obviously of great concern.

‘We need to ensure that the management and the leadership of the hospital understand exactly why they have got into this situation and get to the root of the problem.’

Board papers for a governors’ meeting next week said the worst case scenario of the deficit was £40.5m.

Hospital bosses plan to roster staff better, clamp down on spending and are working on a three-year financial recovery plan.

The News approached Havant MP Alan Mak about the situation at the QA, but he declined to comment.