A WHISTLEBLOWER has uncovered a £2.3m 'black hole' in the accounts at Barnsley Hospital.
Bosses insist jobs are safe and there is no risk to patient care but they admit they have no idea what has caused the gap which only came to light last week.
Until then, everything in the accounts of the hospital - which last year had an operating income of almost £170 million - was apparently in order, the Chronicle understands.
Managers have now commissioned two firms of auditors to comb through accounts to discover what went wrong - and how.
The size of the black hole could rise even further when the latest accounts are compiled in the next month, although it is not thought to be down to theft by any individual or group and no-one has been suspended.
Chief executive Diane Wake - who only took over last summer - said the the news comes at the worst possible time, with the hospital - like many others - already under pressure to make savings of up to £6 million.
She said: "We don't know or understand what's got us into this position, a lot of the finer detail is unclear.
"We are committed to sustaining patient safety and recovering our position. The staff are genuinely worried, but we are committed to protecting staff and front-line clinical care."
Auditors Pricewaterhouse Coopers and KPMG have been appointed to look at accounts dating back to 2012/13.