According to Bromley Hospitals NHS trust’s latest annual report, “2007/08 has been a difficult and challenging year for the Trust.”
The year ended with a deficit of £17.9million. This, together with an £87M accrued cash debt, resulted in Bromley becoming one of the 17 most financially challenged Trusts in the country.
The current trust board, in an attempt to “demonstrate public accountability” for historically poor financial performance, commissioned an independent review of financial management and governance. The review report states “The Trust Board was ineffective, until 2007, in scrutinising the financial information provided. This led to a series of failings in the financial management and high-level governance of the Trust.”
As a result, until 2007/8 the review finds that “the Trust Board did not meet its conjoint responsibilities for effective clinical care and effective financial management, favouring the former at the expense of the latter. Insufficient attention was paid to the many early warnings received by the Trust Board about its worsening financial position.”
The extent to which the report attempts to leave no stone unturned is summed up by its author, Michael Taylor, thus: “This Review has revealed various and serious failings. I recognise that many of the findings will be unpalatable to some recipients of this Report. I fully expect that attempts will be made by certain parties to distance themselves from the findings, find faults with my interpretation of the evidence, or the methodology for the progression of the Review.”
The report is extensive at 156 pages plus a total of 30 appendices. There is undoubtedly much than can be learned from Michael Taylor’s review that can be translated into lessons for other trust boards. The report and its appendices can be downloaded here.
It is interesting to note that former CEO at Bromley, John Watkinson, whilst being applauded for his concerns for patient care, is nevertheless accused of having breached certain provisions within the NHS Code of Conduct and Accountability. Mr Watkinson left Bromley at the end of 2006 to become CEO at the troubled Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust (RCHT). He is apparently now on extended leave from RCHT pending an investigation into its governance and financial management. For further information, click here.
UPDATE 22 MARCH 2009 – Readers might like to download a document presented to the board of the Royal United Bath NHS Trust in January 2009 that demonstrates how that particular trust has addressed the issue of learning from the Bromley report. Click here.