South Tees NHS trust waiting times 'persistent failure'
"Persistent failure" to meet waiting time targets could signal "wider problems" at a Tees hospital trust, the health regulator has said.
Monitor is looking at whether South Tees Hospital NHS Trust breached its licence to provide healthcare services.
The trust said it had made "significant improvement" and welcomed the scrutiny.
It said it had failed to meet the national target of 18 weeks between referral and treatment for three quarters of the past year with approval from its board of directors.
It was working through a "backlog of patients" after an "exceptionally busy and prolonged winter period", it said.
Monitor regional director Robert Davidson said: "Patients rightly expect the highest possible standards of care from their local hospital.
"We've got concerns that this isn't always happening at South Tees and that's why we have launched this investigation."
The trust said its aim was to have "a zero-harm culture to patients" but the target it had been set for for reducing cases of C difficile was "very difficult".
The eight "never events" it has reported since 2010 had been "subject to rigorous review", it said.
Stockton South conservative MP James Wharton called waiting times at the trust "unacceptably long" and said "clearly something is not as it should be".
South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust runs services at the James Cook Hospital, Friarage Hospital and six community hospitals across Teesside, Hambleton and Richmondshire.