Health chiefs have revealed that the dire state of their finances is even worse than at first anticipated.
The Bedfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (BCCG), which is responsible for buying healthcare for the people of Beds, has spiralled into even more debt and expects to be £40 million in the red by the end of the financial year.
Predictions earlier this year had settled at a figure of £28.8 million but an unexpected growing demand for care means the total has boomed by more than £10 million.
At a meeting last week chief clinical and accountable officer Dr Paul Hassan said: “I very much regret having to report this revised forecast, which is deeply disappointing to me. This is a very difficult time for the NHS in Bedfordshire. We must regain control of our finances if we are to maintain the strides we have made in the quality and safety of care available to local people.
“Key factors behind the changed financial position include: growing demand for care as a result of a difficult winter; a further rise in the number of Bedfordshire patients being treated for mental health issues outside Bedfordshire, and more patients with complex health needs requiring costly, community-based care.
The BCCG is working with NHS England which has appointed an external auditor to carry out an investigation.