James Brokenshire has said news that the South London Healthcare NHS Trust could be put into administration was a “sad inevitability” but that the move could speed much needed reforms to improve clinical services. SLHT which runs Queen Mary’s Sidcup, Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich and the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley has been suffering losses of £1 million a week and posted a deficit of £69.8 million in 2011/12 alone – the largest in England
The Secretary of State for Health notified the Trust yesterday (25 June 2012) that he is likely to put it into an “unsustainable provider regime” with its activities put under the control of a special NHS administrator with wide ranging powers to make rapid recommendations on how to make the hospitals sustainable. If invoked, it would be the first time that the powers created under the last Government have been used.
James Brokenshire met Health Secretary Andrew Lansley late last night to discuss the move and the implications for local healthcare. The Health Secretary underlined that any decision to use the special powers was being considered now for the benefit of patients so that local hospital services could have a sustainable future and to provide greater certainty to staff and the public.
Commenting, James said:
“It’s been clear for some time that the South London Healthcare Trust simply isn’t sustainable and remains burdened with debts it can’t repay. At its creation SLHT was saddled with onerous PFI contracts and a historic debt mountain inherited from its predecessor organisations. Today’s announcement is more of a sad inevitability than a surprise.
“Unsustainable finances risk leading to unsustainable services so it is right that the Health Secretary has taken firm action now rather than allowing the situation to drift. This is an important opportunity to drive through change to provide much needed improvements to local healthcare. This includes pursuing options for new partnerships with other NHS organisations such as the central London teaching hospitals to apply their clinical expertise to services provided locally.
“I’ve underlined that this also includes delivering new services such as radiotherapy in Sidcup as part of the Queen Mary’s campus proposals. SLHT’s uncertain financial future has held these plans back and an administrator could help inject much needed urgency into their implementation. Rather than raising new questions over Queen Mary’s as some may suggest, this could actually help make the positive vision for the hospital’s future become a reality.”