Services run by Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust may be privatised or the trust may be the first NHS foundation trust to be threatened with special administration as part of a financial review announced on Tuesday.

Following a forecast by management consultants that the trust could be £46.6 million in debt in the 2014-15 financial year, Monitor, the independent regulator of foundation trusts, has called in consultants to ‘recommend a viable long-term solution’.

The trust, which runs Stafford Hospital and Cannock Chase Hospital, has been the subject of severe criticism in recent years for the quality of its patient care. Monitor's chair and interim chief executive, Dr David Bennett, said that whilst the trust "has made significant improvements in the clinical care provided for patients…we need to make sure these services can be secured in the long-term. It is therefore time for us as the sector regulator to step in and look for a solution that ensures services are provided for local patients on a sustainable basis."

The financial report on the trust, to be published in the Spring, will see contributions from specialists in accountancy, administrative and legal services and financial advice. It will look at ways in which the trust's services could be reorganised, including hiving off some services to be run by private healthcare providers or putting the trust in administration.

The trust is the second NHS trust in financial trouble to face privatisation of its services or being put into administration under the ‘unsustainable providers regime’, in an attempt to safeguard patient services. Earlier this year, we reported that South London Healthcare NHS Trust was the first NHS trust to go into administration. Last month, Matthew Kershaw, South London Healthcare NHS Trust's special administrator, announced that he was inviting private healthcare providers and NHS organisations to register their interest in running patient services.