Ipswich: Hospital’s Foundation Trust bid could be postponed to allow new board to settle in

Praise for staff at Ipswich Hospital

Praise for staff at Ipswich Hospital

A BID by Ipswich Hospital to secure financial independence by becoming a Foundation Trust status could be put on hold, it has emerged.

An external review of the trust’s application – which was due to be submitted on December 1 – by Deloitte has resulted in the recommendation that the trust resets its bid timetable to allow time for the new members of the hospital board to settle in.

The feedback from auditors Deloitte, which has yet to be discussed by the board, recommends the hospital submit their application in December 2014 – delaying the process by a year.

Foundation Trust status is considered the gold standard, allowing a trust the independence to manage their own finances.

The Government’s aim is for all NHS trusts to become Foundation Trusts – West Suffolk and Colchester have already achieved the status.

A hospital spokeswoman said there have been a number of interim directors on the board in recent months.

Interim chief executive Nigel Beverley has been in post since last May and will hand over to the newly appointed chief Nick Hulme on Monday.

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There is currently an interim director of finance – who is due to be replaced in June – and an interim director of transformation and operations who will be replaced in the coming months by a chief operating officer.

In addition, the new medical director Rob Mallinson will take over on Monday and a new non executive director Laurence Collins has recently joined the board.

Interim chief Mr Beverley said: “Foundation Trust status is not an aim in itself.

“It is really important it is seen as a means to an end – the end being a stronger, more sustainable hospital service east Suffolk.

“I think now this hospital has got much stronger support from its commissioners for becoming an independent Foundation Trust, not merging with any other trust.

“It is in much better shape now to get there than 12 months ago and that is really positive.

“The NHS world is shifting very rapidly and the Francis Report has had a major impact on that.”

Speaking at the meeting chairman of the board Ann Tate, added: “This report is set out in draft. We have not had the opportunity to discuss and look at the evidence base to see where it is valid.

“We can’t make any hard and fast judgment if the application will slip by a year, six months or at all, until we as a board have discussed the findings.

“Since the report into Mid Staffs there has been some high level political musings coming out that it is important for trusts to focus on patient quality, safety and care.

“Therefore whether that can be best achieved by accelerating towards Foundation Trust status or not is an area of doubt.

“There are many new faces around this table as well.”

The hospital spokeswoman added: “No decision has been made for us to withdraw or postpone our application.

“This is feedback which the board has yet to consider.

“We have done everything we need to date. This is not about the hospital not having done something.”

The hospital postponed its Foundation Trust application once before in 2011 as a result of spiralling debt.

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