Under-fire Norfolk hospital defends its finances

Health bosses last night hit back at claims that a Norfolk hospital would not achieve foundation trust status if it applied for it today.

David Bennett, chief executive of health regulator Monitor, has claimed that 11 trusts, including the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in King's Lynn, are in serious financial difficulties and would not achieve the standard of excellence if assessed now.

He also told the Public Accounts Committee yesterday that he believed the trusts were in serious breach of the terms of their authorisation.

Bosses at the hospital, which gained foundation trust status last year, last night fiercely disputed both claims by Mr Bennett.

But North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss have expressed concerns over the announcement by Mr Bennett.

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Mr Bellingham said: 'I'm due to have a meeting with the chief executive and chairman, but this news adds additional urgency to having the meeting soon.

'I think the chief executive and the chairman must provide reassurances to the people of West Norfolk following what has been said.'

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But he added: 'A great deal of work went into securing foundation trust status and it was only awarded after certain targets were achieved.'

Ms Truss said: 'This is obviously a concern which I will be raising with the chief executive of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

'Residents in South West Norfolk will want reassurance that measures are in place to resolve the situation as soon as possible.'

Last night a spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said: 'We finished the 2011/2012 financial year with a trading surplus of just over �1m, which was below our plan of �2m.

'We have an efficiency savings programme in place to ensure that not only do we remain in the black but generate a surplus in the current year for reinvestment in patient services.'

Another East Anglia trust mentioned by Mr Bennett yesterday was the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Mr Bennett said it was in significant financial difficulties because of a costly private finance initiative (PFI).


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