NHS trust faces £2 million costs after Surgicentre takeover in Stevenage

Nick Carver, Chief Executive of the East and North Nerts NHS Trust, with Matron Claire Jackson and S

Nick Carver, Chief Executive of the East and North Nerts NHS Trust, with Matron Claire Jackson and Stephen McPartland MP after the Lister Surgicentre was taken over - Credit: Archant

The hospital trust which stepped in to try to save a failing surgery service is facing costs of more than £2 million.

The East and North Herts NHS Trust – which runs Lister Hospital in Stevenage – took over the privately-run Lister Surgicentre on the hospital site last month amid patient safety concerns.

The Surgicentre – renamed the Treatment Centre – was bought by the Government from Clinicenta Ltd, which is part of parent company Carillion, for in excess of £53 million after an inspection by health watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found an effective health, safety and welfare system was not in place.

The CQC had been in the process of suspending Clinicenta’s licence.

The Treatment Centre offers day case surgery and some short-stay surgery – including orthopaedics – as well as eye services.

The NHS trust is now estimating a £2.3 million impact on its finances as a result of the takeover.

Voluntary watchdog the East and North Herts Independent Health Monitoring Group is calling for the NHS trust to be compensated by the Government.

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Spokesman Patrick Newman said: “The Surgicentre was effectively imposed on the Lister site and I can’t see why the NHS trust should suffer any kind of financial penalty for taking over what is a limping service and try to make it work as it should have done in the first place.”

Nick Carver, chief executive of the NHS trust, said: “Once the trust was made aware it would be asked to take on the running of the former Surgicentre, it was always clear we would be incurring two sets of additional costs that had not been planned for – the cost of mobilising the service, and the fact the service was running at a loss.”

The service was running at a loss because GPs had stopped referring patients, with only six of the 26 beds occupied and less than 50% of the theatre capacity being utilised at the time of the takeover.

The NHS trust’s latest estimate is that the one-off mobilisation costs will amount to £1m and, by the time the service is running at a profit, there will be a further £1.3m impact on its finances.

“Until August 2013, our forecast end-of-year position stood at £2.1m,” said Mr Carver.

“Once the costs of managing the service began to become apparent, in September that forecast surplus was reduced to £0.1m.The extraordinary circumstances involved in this service transfer has led to discussions on what financial assistance may be available. We are confident levels of referrals will recover quickly and to the point that the Treatment Centre is no longer a financial drain on the rest of the NHS trust.”

Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who campaigned for the NHS trust to take over from Clinicenta, said: “The costs are as a result of the facility only running at half capacity and as we rebuild trust with the local health professionals and community we will quickly increase to 100% usage.”