Barnsley hospital probe by watchdog

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Barnsley Hospital is being investigated by health watchdog Monitor over financial problems and long waits for patients in A&E.

The hospital has breached the national A&E quarterly target – which says 95 per cent of emergency patients should be seen within four hours – five times within an 18 month period.

Its finances have also deteriorated into the red to the tune of £2.3 million.

Frances Shattock, Monitor’s regional director for the north, said: “We are opening this investigation because we want to understand why the trust is facing problems in A&E and with its finances so that we can help it to improve and provide a good quality service.

“We expect the trust to take rapid action to address its problems whilst an investigation is ongoing. If necessary, we will not hesitate to take regulatory action.”

A spokesman for Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said a ‘serious incident’ was declared in March into ‘financial irregularities’, and that it had launched its own investigations.

He said: “We will be working in partnership with Monitor and will be fully co-operating with its investigation.

“The trust would like to reassure patients that services are in no way affected by its financial position and patient care continues as normal.”

Diane Wake took over as chief executive at the trust in November, while the hospital recently opened two new £2.5m units alongside its casualty department to cope with demand.

Wentworth and Dearne MP John Healey said he wanted to see ‘control of the hospital kept in the hands of people in Barnsley’.

Karl Norwood, Yorkshire and Humber operational manager for the Royal College of Nursing, said: “The trust must avoid a knee-jerk reaction to the situation which could adversely impact on patients and staff.”