An investigation into the finances at Huddersfield and Calderdale hospitals has been launched after bosses admitted they would be £4m in the red by the end of the year.
Hospital regulator Monitor is probing why the hospital trust is set to go into a multi-million pound deficit when it planned to deliver a £3m surplus this year.
Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust (CHFT) has been asked to make £19m savings by the end of march but only identified cuts of roughly £9m.
Hospital chiefs have said they could not slash any more this year without affecting patient safety.
The demand to cut comes amid demands to invest millions in more staff, including nurses, A&E consultants and discharge co-ordinators.
Owen Williams, chief executive of the Trust, said: “The sheer scale of our financial challenge is there for all to see. The 6,000 staff at CHFT continue to provide compassionate care for local people in the face of some very tough challenges.
“We have undertaken an independent review of our approach to finances and will implement the actions from this work to further assure Monitor. We submitted a re-forecast plan to Monitor in September and are currently delivering in line with this plan.”
Paul Chandler, regional director at Monitor, said: “This investigation will scrutinise the Trust’s finances and examine ways to effectively address these problems on behalf of patients.
“We will also look into whether the Trust’s leadership could have prevented the recent deterioration in finances.”
The plans, including the controversial downgrading of A&E at Halifax, were delayed by the GP led commissioning groups who say they want to see how their community care plans develop before they make changes to hospitals.
As reported on Tuesday, the commissioners have a £284m Care Closer To Home contract for Kirklees currently out to tender, with a provider, potentially a private firm, to be announced by March 2015.
But Monitor said yesterday, work to make changes to the way Huddersfield and Halifax hospitals are structured should be accelerated, not delayed.
Mr Williams added: “We fully support Monitor’s view that we must continue to work with commissioners and other local partners to ensure the Trust is sustainable in the long term, but at greater pace.”