Staff and patients at Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital have again been assured that the hospital will not be closing, despite news that experts are being brought in to help with the trust’s finances.
Senior managers have admitted that they need to sort out their finances following yesterday’s announcement by health regulator Monitor.
The area’s MP has welcomed the move and insisted the future is bright for the Gayton Road site.
The hospital trust has been in breach of its operating conditions since January 2012 and was placed in special measures by Monitor last October, amid concerns that it was providing poor quality care and had weak leadership.
The trust is forecasting a £13million deficit in the current financial year.
Yesterday, the regulator announced it would be sending in a team of experts to come up with a plan to secure the future of services for patients.
Monitor’s regional director Mark Turner said the trust was experiencing serious financial problems.
He said:“The people of King’s Lynn expect good quality care to be provided and our team of experts will work closely with the trust management and with local commissioners to ensure the services patients need are provided in a sustainable way.”
But the trust’s chief executive Dr Manjit Obhrai said: “This hospital will not shut, full stop.
“The hospital is here to stay and 80 to 90 per cent of the services will still be provided locally.”
“The area we have struggled with is the finances. We need to get our finances in order.
“We have got to start working towards business as usual. We can’t stay as a hospital in special measures.”
He explained that part of the reason for the trust’s deficit was agency costs for getting nursing up to speed, and paying ‘over the odds’ for locum and agency staff in areas which are difficult to recruit nationally, including A&E medicine, emergency medicine and elderly care physicians.
Monitor will now appoint a team of experts, likely to start work in July, and a tender will be issued to choose who will carry out the work.
The team will work alongside the trust management who will remain responsible for the day-to-day running of the QEH.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “I think it’s very good news.
“The staff at the hospital are quite outstanding and committed to making the recovery plan work. This hospital has a great future.”