A health regulator has found Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in significant breach due to its persistent failure to meet its A&E four-hour target and concerns about its board governance and financial performance.
The hospital trust will be required to:
Improve its A&E performance through the development and implementation of a robust action plan;
take rapid action to strengthen the 2012/13 financial plan, with particular focus on cost savings and cash management; and
commission a review of its board governance and agree the scope of this work with Monitor, the health regulator.
Monitor’s chief operating officer Stephen Hay said: “We have been tracking the trust’s performance for some time and are requiring action to be taken because it is not acceptable that the trust is persistently failing its A&E patients.
“We now expect the trust to focus on immediately and sustainably resolving this issue.
“We require the trust to scope out a review of its board’s governance and immediately improve its 2012/13 financial plan to deliver effective cost savings.
“As part of this the trust needs to get to grips with its cash flow.”
The board is required to report to Monitor on its monthly performance.
Monitor will use its regulatory powers to take action if the board does not deliver the required improvements within the specified timescales.
The hospital has responded to Monitor’s announcement, and senior bosses have stressed that the hospital’s A&E performance has improved.
The Trust’s chairman Steve Hone said: “Progress has been made on A&E and the good news is that over the last three months (July-September) our performance has risen above 95 per cent and we have put a lot of work into developing more robust systems that enable us to maintain this.
“We have also been very active internally on working with our staff to bring about cost and efficiency improvements and new ways of bringing income into the Trust – which is starting to bear fruit.
“However Monitor does feel we need to do more in order to achieve our targets consistently and to prove that we have strong systems of governance in place to monitor them.
“Therefore they have asked us to develop and implement a robust action plan to maintain our A&E performance, take rapid action to improve our finances and to commission an agreed review into the way we make decisions and monitor our performance.
“We will be meeting monthly with Monitor to review our progress in these matters until we have demonstrated that the issues are resolved.
“Patients and staff should be reassured that the hospital is continuing to perform well across the rest of our business. For example we continue to meet a huge number of other performance standards around waiting times, safety, infection control, and have excellent feedback from patients on many of our state-of-the-art services, and around cleanliness and food.”
Conservative Party candidate for Corby and East Northamptonshire Christine Emmett said: “Everyone should welcome the input of this independent regulator, which ensures the highest standards across the health service.
“While we share Monitor’s concerns about A&E services, the hospital has shown improvement in this area and did exceed the 95 per cent target of admitting or discharging patients within four hours of arrival in the last quarter.
“We are pleased to see the hospital has a plan to address its financial deficit without cutting services for patients; at the same time the hospital needs to quickly address the issues raised by Monitor over governance.”