Tunbridge Wells Hospital funding crisis sparks big debate

    Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury

    Reaction to the news that the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has been put into financial special measures has been fast and furious…

    Nigel Edwards, of the Nuffield Trust think tank:
    “The fact is that it’s almost impossible for trusts not to run up deficits when they’re being paid less in real terms than they were five years ago to perform the same treatments – our research shows that procedures for which hospitals were paid £1,000 in 2010 were only earning them £925 in cash in 2015, the equivalent of only £800 after inflation. So in effect their income per patient is dropping all the time, even though they are providing the same or higher levels of care.”

    MP Greg Clark:
    “The PFI financing scheme of the Pembury hospital imposed extra costs on the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and it is acceded that these should be financed centrally rather than be met at the expense of patient care.

    “I have written to the NHS Improvement Trust – and will be seeking a meeting with them – to ensure that whatever steps are taken under the ‘special measures’ regime, patient care will be safeguarded.”

    Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Hospital Trust CEO Glenn Douglas:
    “I am confident we can use this opportunity positively to renew and strengthen our focus on more closely providing our high quality services within our financial means.”

    Jim Mackey, Chief Executive at NHS Improvement
    “This plan is intended to restore financial discipline and ensure ongoing financial sustainability across the whole NHS.”

    Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England
    “We need to use this year both to stabilise finances and kick start the wider changes everyone can see are needed. Most trusts know what needs to get done to release funds for local reinvestment in better patient care, and now is clearly the time to fire the starting gun.”

    Department of Health
    “We’re pleased to see that the NHS has a strong plan to balance the books across both hospitals and local commissioners and will ensure taxpayers money is spent appropriately. Now it is up to hospitals and commissioners to ensure they stick to their own plans to restore financial balance, with the help of national NHS leaders when needed.”

    David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission:
    “Delivering high quality services that are designed around the needs of patients leads to better use of resources. The challenge for trust boards is to leverage this relationship between financial grip and good care – and through our inspections, we’ve seen this achieved in practice.

    “We’ll continue to highlight examples of trusts who are providing care that is both clinically and financially sustainable, as we prepare with NHS Improvement to publish new ratings of how effectively trusts are using their resources to deliver high-quality services to patients. Although the context is increasingly challenging, the goal remains the same: Good, safe care – the care that we would want for ourselves and our families.”