The NHS trust which runs hospitals in east London is heading for an unenviable record – running up the largest deficit in the history of the NHS.
Barts Health NHS Trust, which has Mile End, Newham and the Royal London hospitals among its operations, is expected to overspend by £134.9million, health minister Alistair Burt has revealed. This has topped its own previous record of £79.6million from last year.
Barts is the largest in the country and was formed in 2012 by a merger three hospital groups but has been dogged by institutional problems since its inception.
It has one of the largest Private Financial Initiative contracts in the UK which costs £115million a year to service while 10% of its monthly £68million wage bill pays agency staff. It was fined £56million for failing to treat patients within the set time limits and paid out £1.2million in damages and costs in employment tribunals over stress and bullying related claims.
Meanwhile, the quality of its care has been under fire. Inspectors found low staff morale was rife while the Care Quality Commission put Whipps Cross hospital in special measures after hearing of major concerns about its maternity and older people’s wards. The trust reported 1,200 vacancies, 20% of its nursing complement, in July last year.
Chief executive Alwen Williams was appointed in October after the resignation of the previous incumbent Peter Morris. She said the deficit was just 10% of its annual budget and pointed to other acute trusts with similar financial problems.
Mr Burt confirmed the point saying that London North West Healthcare NHS Trust was facing a £88.3million deficit as it approached the end of its financial year.
Ms Williams said at the time of her appointment: “We know that we have improvements to make – our patients deserve safe and compassionate care every single time they come to one of our hospitals or services.
“From meeting many dedicated and committed colleagues in wards and departments over the last few months, it is clear to me that we are determined to make the improvements and we have the skill and capability to do so.”