Health watchdog warning over planned cuts at Stamford Hospital

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HOSPITAL bosses have been warned that cost-cutting plans must not affect patient care.

Hospital trust regulator Monitor issued the warning to Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Trust after a meeting with chairman Nigel Hards to discuss its ailing finances.

Mr Hards presented the trust’s annual plan review, a blueprint of how it will run the two hospitals over the next year, on Monday last week. The trust has revealed its finances could spiral to be £38m in the red by April 2012.

The trust has announced plans to axe 300 jobs - but said it will not affect patient care - and plans to introduce parking charges at Stamford Hospital

A Monitor spokesman said: “It is essential that the quality of patient services does not suffer as a result of cost cutting measures.

“We require all foundation trusts to be well run and financially viable. However, we don’t dictate to trusts how they should make changes to services.

“Where improvements are needed, we work closely with a trust board to ensure it has credible plans in place to deliver these. Where it fails to do this, we will take action, using our formal powers to intervene if necessary.”

It also said: “Our key message to organisations facing financial challenges is that when driving down costs that should not be at the expense of its quality of care.”

Formal powers available to Monitor, should plans to arrest the trust’s financial fortunes fail, include the replacement of board members and the appointment of external experts.

The trust has run into problems following the move to £289m Peterborough City Hospital, paid for under a private finance initiative. Repayments total £35m each year.

Chairman of the trust at the time contracts were signed, Dr Clive Morton said that the scheme was endorsed by the Department of health, Treasury and Monitor.