Kettering General Hospital has been reprimanded by a watchdog for NHS trusts because of its failure to meet financial and A&E waiting times performance targets.
Watchdog Monitor has confirmed it is taking enforcement action over known or potential breaches of the new provider licence, which came into force on April 1, by 18 NHS foundation trusts.
As a foundation trust Kettering General Hospital has to meet certain NHS performance targets each year which are overseen by Monitor.
In order to tackle these issues under the new regime, Monitor has a range of powers to ensure NHS foundation trusts take the required remedial action.
In this case, Ketering General Hospital and four other NHS foundation trusts with a history of non-compliance or very severe issues have been ordered to put right the breaches.
During 2012 the trust said it had particular difficulties in terms of meeting two of these targets, including the national target of admitting or discharging 95 per cent of A&E patients within four hours of arrival in the department, and maintaining a sound financial trajectory.
The proportion of A&E patients discharged within four hours last year was 91.4 per cent and a review of the finances discovered a £10.8m recurrent deficit.
Chief executive Lorene Read said: “Making sure people don’t wait for more than four hours in A&E is a key priority for the trust.
“We completely agree that it is not a good experience for patients to wait this long.
“A highly pressurised A&E department is not good for care and not good for staff who have to rush around doing the best they can in a busy environment.
“We have had some recent evidence of that and we will be working hard to address it.”
The hospital said the number of people attending the trust’s A&E department has doubled in the past 20 years and continues to grow year on year.
The hospital said the trust’s deteriorating performance on transit time has been a ‘key concern’ – and as a result of this they developed a ‘transformation programme’.
Since being found in breach of its conditions in October 2012, the hospital undertook an ‘in-depth review’ of its finances.
It said it was clear the hospital was spending more than it could afford and if it had done nothing it would have amounted to a £10.8m recurrent deficit – a loss of almost £1m per month.
As a result a large number of cost improvement, income generation and efficiency schemes were launched.
These have been ‘very successful’ according to the hospital, and by the end of the reporting year (March 31, 2013) the trust had cut its recurrent deficit from £10.8m to £636,000 – which equates to £53,000 per month.
Also the trust’s financial reporting regime deficit was reduced to £231,000 (as reported to Monitor).
The trust said because of the work done since October it now has plans to save £10.2m out of an estimated £12m it needs to save during 2013-14.
Mrs Read added: “Back in October we carried out a very thorough X-ray of how our finances work in all areas.
“As a result we have found ways of making further savings, generating efficiencies and generating additional income.
“There is still more work to do but financially we are now very much closer to getting back on track.”