COMMENT: Hospital trust needs to get its finances under control

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After revelations today that the Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Queen Alexandra Hospital at Cosham, is forecasting a near £37m deficit in the current financial year, it is clear that such woes need to be addressed – and fast.

How can the financial fortunes of the trust have gone from a predicted £9m profit to a £36.8m deficit in just 12 months?

Put simply, a series of failings have contributed to the huge turnaround – including a lack of clear vision and strategy for the organisation and instability in the executive team and trust board that led to a failure to look beyond the short-term, as well as trust finances not being a significant item on the board agenda.

Trust chief executive Mark Cubbon, who only took up the role last July, is well aware of the serious situation in which the trust finds itsel.

He 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 understimated.

‘However, it is our firm belief that it can and will be delivered.’

Let’s hope Mr Cubbon is right.

The dire situation has not escaped the region’s MPs. Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage, who was recently appointed as one of health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt’s deputies, says she will personally look into the hospital’s cash problems.

And Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said action needed to be taken to get the hospital back in the black.

Mr Cubbon has said that, despite the grim forecast, patient safety will not be compromised, no redundances will be made and services will not be cut. We can only hope that will be the case as the road to recovery could be long and bumpy.