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Monitor investigation into Trust finances

Monitor, the regulator for foundation trusts, is announcing today that it will be carrying out an investigation into the Trust's financial position.

We have been working with Monitor for much of this year, so that they understand the financial challenges we face, the work we are doing to address them, and how we we can continue to improve our financial position without having a detrimental effect on the quality of patient care. 

You will be aware of the pressures facing the NHS nationally, and that over 90% of trusts were in deficit at the half way point  of this financial year.

2014/15 was the first time that County Durham and Darlington FT ended the year in deficit, having generated surpluses to reinvest in front line services every year since becoming an FT. 

A key challenge is the cost of medical and nursing bank and agency.  This has been a pressure for trusts nationally in meeting new recommended staffing levels, at a time when unplanned activity continues to increase. 

Steps we have taken include  new in house bank arrangements and recruitment abroad, and these are already having an impact.  The Trust's nurse agency costs are down from £1.33 million in June to £635 thousand in November.  There is more to do, particularly in addressing the cost of medical agency staff.

At the start of the financial year 2015/16, we were forecasting a £17.6 million deficit at the year end.  Care groups and corporate services have been working hard to improve this position, and we are on track to achieve savings of over £20 million this year. 

We are now forecasting a reduced deficit, and planning a return to financial surplus in 2016/17. 

We welcome the opportunity to carry out further work with Monitor as part of this more formal process.  During it we will explore whether there is more we can do to improve our financial position more quickly while maintaining quality of care for patients.

Monitor's statement is reproduced below.

Sue Jacques

Chief Executive


NHS regulator investigating finances of County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust

Monitor has opened an investigation into the finances at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

The trust, which provides a range of acute and community services to nearly 600,000 people in and around Durham and Darlington, has predicted a deficit of £14.7 million for 2015/16.

Monitor's investigation will help better understand the causes of the financial challenge and what support the trust needs to improve things for its patients.  Paul Chandler, Regional Director at Monitor, said: "We know the trust, like much of the NHS, is facing a serious financial challenge but we are going to help find out exactly what they can do to get a grip of the situation.


"Thousands of people across the region rely on the services this trust provides, so we will work quickly to determine what support the trust needs to help ensure the necessary improvements are made."


No decision has been taken on whether or not regulatory action will be required, but Monitor will announce the outcome of its investigation in due course.



'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough - could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'

Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community Hospital