Monitor to investigate financial sustainability of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust

monitor17:20 Wednesday 15th April 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

CHRIS MANN: The Chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust has sought to reassure people of the financial sustainability of the Trust. The health watchdog Monitor has today released a statement saying that while the organisation is meeting current targets, the CPFT still faces longer term financial challenges. The Trust recently took over the management of older people’s services in Cambridgeshire as part of a consortium. Well Julie Spence has been speaking to our reporter Emma Maclean.

JULIE SPENCE: I think that having looked at their press release it’s become quite inflammatory, but actually it’s reporting what is a normal practice for Monitor when organisations win and take on big contracts. And the fact that our contract is almost .. well increasing our budget by another half again means that they have to look into the financial sustainability of the organisation. So this is part of a normal process. It’s nothing for anybody to worry about, because actually we’re going to end the year on what they call a three rating. Now it’s rated .. you’re rated .. your financial position is rated from a one to a four, four being excellent, one being awful. We for most of the year .. we started off three. We predicted that we would go down to a two, and we predicted that we’d end the year as a three, which is absolutely in the area that you need to be to be a sustainable organisation going forward. Now that’s exactly how we’re going to end the year, and Monitor will know that in probably the next couple of weeks. So it doesn’t negate the fact that they still have to review your sustainability because you’re taking on a major contract. But we know that this contract is actually going to make us more viable, not less. Because if people think about it logically, we are taking on services, the older people, people with long term injury and conditions. If we’d actually lost that service to an outside provider, we would have had to deliver the same services that we traditionally deliver minus those older people’s services, and therefore everything would be more expensive, because we’d have had the same cost base. So as far as we’re concerned, and I’m concerned as Chair of CPFT, we are actually in a much better position going forward, and I know that at the end of Monitor’s investigation that’s exactly what they’ll find. But this is a normal process.
EMMA MACLEAN: So you’re not at all worried by their findings.
JULIE SPENCE: No. We’ll be cooperating with them because they just have to go through a process. But their processes currently are around mergers and acquisitions. We’ve been negotiating this contract as a tender for over two years, and I’m actually having discussions with them, as is the Chief Exec. Aidan Thomas, in how they might want to free up some of their more bureaucratic processes to be dynamic, to actually operate with a contract, and not a mergers and acquisitions.
EMMA MACLEAN: So do you believe then the CPFT is in a strong position to carry on running the services?
JULIE SPENCE: Oh absolutely. This contract is going to make us stronger not weaker, and it was really one part of our armoury to make sure that we in Cambridgeshire still run our health services, as opposed to having somebody in from outside trying to run them, because now we’re accountable to the people of Cambridgeshire, which is absolutely where we want to be.
EMMA MACLEAN: Anyone listening to this who is currently using the service, what would you say to them? Because obviously they’d have concerns, wouldn’t they?
JULIE SPENCE: Yes. My message to anybody who’s listening who has any connection with the mental health services, or now the wider community services with older people, is there is no need to worry. Everything that we have looked at in terms of our finances, this is a much better position for us to be in than it would have been if we hadn’t actually won the contact. And just remember, this is a normal process that Monitor, as the regulator, have to go through. There are many many many more trusts in far more difficult financial situations than us.
CHRIS MANN: Julie Spence there, Chair of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust, talking to our Emma Maclean.