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Friday, February 15, 2013

South London Healthcare NHS Trust to be dissolved by 1 October 2013

Money

South London Healthcare NHS Trust is to be dissolved by October 2013, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced today (30 January).

Previous attempts to solve the financial problems at South London Healthcare NHS Trust have failed. Currently, the Trust is losing more than £1 million every week and by the end of this year, is expected to have an accumulated debt of more than £200 million.

It was on the advice of NHS Medical Director Professor Bruce Keogh that Mr Hunt also announced that he has decided that it is in the best interests of patients that Lewisham Hospital should retain its A&E

The Trust Special Administrator was appointed in July last year to recommend a lasting clinical and financial solution for South London Healthcare NHS Trust.  

After careful consideration the Secretary of State has accepted the broad recommendations of the report, which are:

  • The Trust will be dissolved, with each of its hospitals taken over by a neighbouring hospital trust.  These mergers are subject to approval from the relevant regulators.
  • All three hospitals within South London Healthcare NHS Trust – Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, Queen Mary’s in Sidcup and the Princess Royal in Bromley – will be required to make the full £74.9 million of efficiencies identified by the Trust Special Administrator.
  • All vacant or poorly utilised premises will be vacated, and sold where possible.
  • The Department will pay for the excess costs of the PFI buildings at the Queen Elizabeth and Princess Royal Hospitals and write off the accumulated debt of the Trust so that the new organisations are not saddled with historic debts.  It will also negotiate an appropriate level of transitional funding to cover implementation.

On the basis of Sir Bruce’s advice, the Secretary of State has accepted the recommendation to centralise very specialist emergency care at four sites in South East London because this will significantly improve the quality of care and save the lives of up to 100 patients a year.

The Secretary of State understood the financial rationale for downgrading Lewisham A&E, but in the interests of local patients has imposed some additional clinical safeguards. Lewisham Hospital will retain its ability to admit patients with less serious conditions, and will continue to have 24/7 senior medical emergency cover, allowing it to remain open as a working A&E department, treating up to 75% of the patients who currently use it.

With these additional safeguards in place, the Secretary of State has agreed that the Trust Special Administrator should proceed to implementation, with South London Healthcare NHS Trust expected to be dissolved between June and October 2013.

SoR London Regional Officer Paul Bromley commented: "The SoR broadly welcomes the Secretary of State’s announcement. We believe that the changes will bring stability to the health economy in South east London.

“However, we will be studying the detail, particularly with regard to the service changes proposed at Lewisham and the knock on effect to other hospitals in the area.
 
“The SoR will be working closely with the other Trades Unions to ensure that all staff are properly advised and supported over the coming months.”

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