HEALTHWATCH Herefordshire has urged Wye Valley NHS Trust to put patient experience at the forefront of any decision on the Trust’s future.

On Monday, the Hereford Times revealed that the Trust was ready to reject a range of options explored over the past year to secure that  future. The Trust Board is expected to make the final decision when it meets  tomorrow (Thurs).

Paul Deneen, chairman of Herefordshire Healthwatch, said that while options for the future governance of the Trust were “interesting to some” they were not a priority for patients.

“Patients are most concerned about high quality services, delivered by qualified clinicians operating in clinically safe environments,” said Mr Deneen.

Healthwatch, he said, was ready to “play its part”  in talks over the Trust’s governance, particularly over the way any arrangements might impact on patient experience.

On Monday, WVT chief executive Derek Smith said that, after extensive analysis, none of the options were likely to be approved by the NHS nationally.

Backed by a cash boost that means it can break even by the end of the current financial year, the cash-strapped Trust  can now fight for a future on its own terms.

If the board rejects the options tomorrow,  the focus of the Trust shifts to securing short-term survival. Confirmation of £9m coming from the Trust Development Agency (TDA) means WVT, facing a £15m deficit without support, can end the financial year at break even.

The Trust is also ready to go into talks with the TDA and Herefordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) over what the short to medium term may mean in terms of services and finances.

On-going funding issues - previously reported by the Hereford Times - mean WVT cannot achieve foundation trust (FT) status this year, as required by the government.

Without support the Trust was on course for an overspend of at least £9m on this year’s budget.

The Trust required increasing levels of support over recent years just to reach a break even position, with £9.8m needed over 2012/13 alone.

In 2012 the Trust was declared as in “turnaround” to emphasise the urgency and scale of the financial challenges it faced.

Under the options, WVT faced a merger with an existing  FT, a break up with services run by a range of public and private sector providers, or a future as private sector franchise.

Over the latter half of last year each option was tested as to its financial viability.