THE financial black hole at Barnsley Hospital has grown to £7.4 million - and it could still rise.

Initially thought to be in the region of £2.3m, a report given at a board meeting at the hospital revealed the figure has now trebled.

Hospital bosses have admitted they do not know how the shortfall has come about but it is not thought to be as a result of theft by an individual or group.

In an effort to find out what had happened, they brought in two firms of auditors to comb through the hospital's accounts dating back to 2012/13 to discover what went wrong.

Diane Wake, the hospital's chief executive, said: "We have commenced this new financial year with a deficit of at least £7.4m. However, we expect that this position could worsen.

"Exact figures are being confirmed as part of our investigations, which we expect to conclude shortly."

The hospital is also being investigated by NHS watchdog Monitor over the financial concerns and for failing to meet targets for patient waiting times in its accident and emergency department.

"We would like to reassure patients that quality patient care remains a priority," Ms Wake added. "We are continuing to provide the same high level of care our patients need and deserve."