Struggling south London NHS trust should be broken up, says administrator
By Vivienne Russell
| 29 October 2012
The struggling South London Healthcare NHS Trust should be dissolved and other organisations given responsibility for the services it supplies, the special administrator has recommended.
Matthew Kershaw was dispatched to the trust
by then health secretary Andrew Lansley in July following concerns about spiralling Private Finance Initiative debts. The trust, which operates hospitals in three main sites – Orpington, Sidcup and Woolwich – had accumulated debt of £150m.
Publishing his draft report today, Kershaw recommends a three-year transformation programme for both the trust and the wider health economy in southeast London. It consists of six main elements.
He recommends that the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich be merged with neighbouring Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust and that the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington be taken over by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. An alternative option for the Princess Royal would be to put the services out to tender to providers from the NHS and independent sector.
Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup should be should be transferred to Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust and turned into a ‘health campus’, providing services such as day surgery, radiotherapy and endoscopy.
Kershaw also calls on the Department of Health to fund ‘the excess costs’ of the PFI buildings at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington until the contracts expire.
Another recommendation is for a comprehensive re-organisation of emergency, community, maternity and elective services across southeast London.
South London Healthcare NHS Trust should sell any vacant or under-used premises or give up their leases, Kershaw says. He urges the trust to work with the London boroughs of Bexley and Bromley to ensure the sale of land and property maximises regeneration opportunity.
‘Taken together, this proposed set of actions should improve outcomes for patients, resolve the financial issues within South London Healthcare NHS Trust and, more broadly, secure financial sustainability across the wider health economy,’ Kershaw’s report stated.
It adds: ‘However, delivering this is a considerable task that will require strong leadership and implementation capacity.’
Kershaw will undertake further analysis to define the transition and implementation requirements before completing his final report in January.
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said Kershaw’s plan was ‘well thought through and credible’ and deserved a ‘fair hearing’.
He said: ‘I urge the public, politicians and staff from all the trusts affected to get fully and constructively involved in the consultation and help shape the services of the future.
‘The NHS is under intense financial pressure. A growing number of organisations are finding themselves being pushed towards a cliff edge. Tough decisions need to be taken if they are to recover their financial footing and deliver better care.’