PCTs criticised in new report

BOSSES of two cash-strapped Suffolk primary care trusts (PCTs) were last night accused of poor management and a lack of board-level leadership.The “financially failing” Suffolk east and west PCTs were among 25 bodies that have been criticised in a new report from the Audit Commission.

BOSSES of two cash-strapped Suffolk primary care trusts (PCTs) were last night accused of poor management and a lack of board-level leadership.

The “financially failing” Suffolk east and west PCTs were among 25 bodies that have been criticised in a new report from the Audit Commission.

The independent watchdog found a “reliance on short-term fixes for recurrent problems” and a “lack of robust budget-setting” were common factors in most financially-troubled PCTs.

Sir Michael Lyons, acting chairman of the Audit Commission, did not single out individual organisations for criticism but said there were common themes in those with money problems.


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“To varying degrees, combinations of weak governance, poor management and a lack of engagement by clinicians have contributed to financial failures in a small number of NHS bodies,” he said.

“There are lessons to be learned. It is crucial that boards and management get the basics right because financial failure is often a reflection of wider organisational failure.”

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Last night both Suffolk PCTs named in the report said improvements had been made since it was carried out.

Colin Muge, chairman of Suffolk West PCT, said: “This is a historical document as it's referring to the financial year 2004-5.

“We're not the same organisation we were six months ago but I think there's a lot of very valid points made, not just for us, but for organisations in general.

“I think there were areas we could've done better in - performance monitoring is an example of that - but improvements have been made.

“I think it's a useful thing for the Audit Commision to have done and it will be invaluable to the NHS.”

A spokesman for East Suffolk PCT also said the document referred to “historic” issues and claimed they were “not reflective of current management of the organisations”.

“The Public Interest Report issued for the Suffolk East PCTs in February was clear that all the proposed actions to address the situation were already being progressed by the new management team,” he said.

“We made £17.4m of savings in 2005-6, turning an overspend of £14.1m in 2004-5 to an underspend of £3.3m in 2005-6.”

In the document, Learning the Lessons from Financial Failure in the NHS, the watchdog recognises many of the organisations highlighted are on the road to recovery.

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