Health regulator to probe Lancashire NHS trust finances

Ambulances outside Royal Preston Hospital's A&E department
Image caption Monitor said no decision has been made on whether further action will be needed

The health regulator Monitor is investigating the finances of a Lancashire hospital trust after it asked for financial help.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust provides hospital services to 370,000 people in Preston and Chorley.

Chief executive Karen Partington said maintaining care standards while making further cuts was "not possible".

Monitor said it was looking to see "what can be done to improve things".

Ms Partington said they had "successfully delivered savings of more than £60m" which was about 4% of its turnover in the last four years and a further £10m over the next financial year.

To remain financially viable, the trust - which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley hospitals - has to continue to make annual savings of more than 4%.

"The board is not willing to compromise on the quality of care... so we have taken the decision to request financial assistance from Monitor," she added.

"We will fully co-operate with the investigation and work with local health and social care organisations to develop a financial recovery plan that secures the highest standards of care."

Wirral University Teaching Hospitals in Merseyside and City Hospitals Sunderland and Gateshead Health, both in Tyne and Wear are also being probed.

Regional director at Monitor Paul Chandler said: "We have launched these investigations to find out more about the financial situation at each trust and to establish what can be done to improve things."

Mr Chandler added it has not yet decided whether regulatory action will be required but will announce the outcome of its investigation in due course.

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