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Cambridge University Hospitals loses CEO and CFO amidst Monitor investigation

Cambridge NHS CEO and chief finance officer quit the trust, while Monitor investigates its finances and £200m eHospital programme

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is losing its CEO and chief finance officer (CFO) in the midst of foundation trust regulator Monitor’s investigation into finances and the eHospital programme.

The trust announced on 15 September 2015 that CEO Keith McNeil and CFO Paul James have resigned. The news comes two months after Monitor launched an investigation into the trust’s finances and the impact of the £200m eHospital programme.

Cambridge went live with its Epic electronic patient record (EPR) system, underpinned by a huge infrastructure upgrade from Hewlett-Packard (HP), in 2014 – a project that was overseen by McNeil.

It was a costly affair, with HP’s portion of the work priced at £140m, the Epic EPR at £30m, plus £20m for the trust’s costs, which has led to a serious financial deficit at the organisation.

According to a performance report published by the trust in July 2015, it had a deficit of £20.6m – £8.6m of which came from the eHospital programme.

At the end of July, Monitor launched an investigation into the trust’s financial problems, “including the introduction and management of the IT system”.

At the time, Stephen Hay, managing director at Monitor, said it would take a close look at the nature of the problems.

“We have launched an investigation into Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust over financial concerns. This investigation will include how the trust handled the introduction of a major new IT system,” he said.

Departing CEO McNeil said resigning had been a difficult decision, but the trust needs new leadership to deal with the difficulties.

“It is a matter of public record that we face a number of very serious challenges, including a growing financial deficit. I feel the time is right to have new leadership in place,” he said.

This is not the first time the trust has experienced financial difficulties. In 2013, Monitor took regulatory action at the trust over concerns around finances and the way the hospital was run.

Neighbouring Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was originally part of the procurement process for the Epic EPR, but decided in August 2015 not to take up the system.

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