Private firm to Leeds NHS rescue

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private financial experts have been brought into Leeds hospitals to help avert a looming financial crisis.

Latest figures show if no action is taken, the city’s hospitals trust could be in deficit by next March.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Leeds General Infirmary and St James’s Hospital, has been spending millions more than it should.

That includes £5.2m since April on NHS patients being treated in private hospitals – 225 per cent more than planned - to meet waiting time targets.

Accountancy firm KPMG has now been drafted in to help Leeds hospital bosses “urgently” tackle the problem. It is understood the work is being funded by the three Leeds Clinical Commissioning Groups, which plan and pay for healthcare in the city.

Neither they, nor the hospitals trust, wanted to comment.

But George Mudie, MP for Leeds East, said: “It’s unacceptable that the amount of money being paid to do this is not forthcoming.” He added that it raised questions about what financial difficulties the trust was in.

“They should be answering legitimate questions that are being posed about what’s happening to public money.”

Going into the red would mean the already cash-strapped hospitals trust would add to its multi-million pound savings requirement for the following year.

Interim finance director Kevin Howells said in a report to hospital directors that if overspending on pay continued “the trust will face a significant challenge to deliver financial balance”.

“Given the seriousness of the underlying financial position, the trust has engaged KPMG to assist in quantifying the extent of the challenge,” he added.

The trust ended the last financial year with a surplus of £1.5m, from a £1bn annual budget. However this was not the £10m surplus required to achieve foundation trust status.

Hospital bosses devised a plan to end the current year in the black, however it has been spending too much and not generating enough income.

Failing to meet targets on hospital superbug C.difficile and waiting times also leave it facing the possibility of at least £4.7m of fines. Mr Howells added that if the trust was to break even in 2013/14, the £5.2m spent on treating their patients privately needed to be provided internally.

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