A failed music festival resulted in a loss of Â£ 360,000 for a business owned by the Derby Hospital NHS Trust.
The Derby Sound event was hosted by health officials with the aim of raising additional funds, but instead the failed event lost a huge sum.
The money could have paid the salaries of 10 nurses for a year at the trust, which runs the Royal Derby Hospital.
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Derby University Hospitals and Burton NHS Foundation Trust have tried to keep the loss a secret, but Derbyshire Live forced it to reveal details after a two-year freedom of information battle.
And now the UK’s largest union is calling for an ‘independent and transparent’ investigation into how the doomed business could have cost a ‘cash-strapped NHS’ so much money.
Derby Sound, starring Rita Ora and The Vamps, was due to take place at Derbyshire County Cricket Club in 2019, but poor ticket sales forced it to be canceled.
It was organized by D-Hive, a company 100% owned by the Hospital Trust, which the trust says is working on commercial projects with the aim of pumping profits back into local healthcare.
In total, the costs associated with the Derby Sound cancellation amounted to Â£ 361,679.
The trust argues that it suffered no losses as a result of the cancellation as, overall, it claims that D-Hive has generated Â£ 2.5million in profit “in the past five years. years’ until March of this year.
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But without the festival’s failure, the trust and its patients in Derby and Burton would have earned an additional Â£ 360,000.
The trust fought to keep the costs of the failed festival a secret for two years, arguing it was “bound by trade secrets to third parties.”
But this month a judge, after an appeal from Derbyshire Live, finally ruled the information should be made public.
A spokesperson for the Unite union said there were “serious questions” about the festival that could “only be resolved by organizing an independent and transparent investigation.”
He said: ‘The loss of Â£ 360,000 is a huge amount, however you measure it – and an amount the cash-strapped NHS can hardly afford to lose.
“The questions that need to be asked are why trust enters the world of music festivals in the first place and, also, the exact mechanisms for determining how such a loss could be attributed and what financial monitoring procedures were in place. .
“The fact that the trust fought so fiercely against a legitimate Freedom of Information request seems to indicate a deeper unease with accountability and scrutiny.”
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, described the failed festival as an “outrageous” waste of money.
He said: âPeople expect their hard-earned taxes to be spent on primary care, not on music festivals which are best left to the private sector.
“The trust needs to take control and focus on its statutory obligations rather than on favorite projects.”
Because the festival was canceled due to poor ticket sales and D-Hive did not appear to have a track record of setting up festivals, Derbyshire Live asked to see evidence of market research undertaken before. that the decision is made to organize the event.
D-Hive admitted that it did not have “marketing materials” and only carried out “computer research”.
Darren Riley, commercial director of D-Hive, said his team were “extremely disappointed” by the failure of the festival because it was “innovative and had the potential to contribute to the NHS and its patients”.
He said: ‘We worked hard to organize a concert in Derbyshire which would not only bring foreign investment to the area and a cultural event for young people in the area, but if successful it would have meant we could reinvest more funds in support of the NHS. and gave an advantage to NHS staff.
âUnfortunately, the event turned out to be commercially unviable. The costs associated with the cancellation were fully borne by D-Hive and since that time we have made profits of over Â£ 2.5million. sterling for the benefit of the NHS. “
Simon Crowther, executive director of finance and performance for the hospital trust, said the trust “did not incur any costs related to the cancellation of this concert.”
He said: ‘The trust, which set up the subsidiary to enable it to provide services to the NHS and participate in NHS and non-NHS investments, has benefited from Â£ 2.5million from D- Hive over the past five years to be reinvested in NHS services.
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