UK & World News
Administration Warning For NHS Trust
An NHS hospital trust losing £1m a week has been put into administration in a last effort to save it from collapse.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley brought in the measures to try to turn around the dire finances of South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
It will be the first in the country to be placed under the control of a special administrator tasked with putting it on a viable footing.
The trust runs three hospitals and has run up deficits of more than £150m over the past three years. It is thought to be on course to lose between £150m and £375m by 2017.
Its chief executive was informed on Monday night that the trust is likely to be put into the "unsustainable providers regime", which was introduced by the last Labour government but never before used.
Mr Lansley sent a letter as the first step in the legal process towards installing a special administrator using the powers.
The administrator will take over the board and recommend measures to the Health Secretary to put the trust's finances on a sustainable basis.
Hospitals run by the trust include Queen Mary's in Sidcup, the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal in Bromley.
The trust released a statement reassuring patients that services would continue as normal.
Sources close to Mr Lansley said long-standing difficulties had been made worse by Labour's merger of the three hospitals' smaller trusts in April 2009 and by two private finance initiative (PFI) deals that are now costing £61m a year in interest payments.
They said the hospital's deficit last year - covered by money from elsewhere in the NHS budget - was equivalent to the salaries of 1,200 nurses or 200 hip replacements a week.
In his letter, Mr Lansley wrote: "I recognise that South London Healthcare NHS Trust faces deep and long-standing challenges, some of which are not of its own making.
"Nonetheless, there must be a point when these problems, however they have arisen, are tackled. I believe we are almost at this point.
"I have sought to provide NHS organisations with the help and support they need to provide these high quality, sustainable services to their patients, which South London Healthcare NHS Trust stands to benefit from.
Other NHS trusts that are trying to improve their financial situation may also face being put in special measures if they do not make progress quickly enough.
South London Healthcare NHS Trust pointed out that it had one of the lowest mortality rates in England and infection rates three times lower than the national average.
In a statement, it said: "We have entered into discussions with the Department of Health and NHS London on the best future for the trust and our priority, and that of others involved, is to make sure that our longstanding and well-known financial issues are resolved.
"Our staff have worked hard for patients and in spite of significant financial issues, we are extremely proud that we now have among the lowest mortality and infection rates in the country.
"We expect these discussions to come to a conclusion in the second week in July when a decision will be taken by the Secretary of State. In the meantime we can reassure local patients and the public that our staff will continue to provide services as normal."
what do you think?
Brian E Gorton
First step to the private sector.
Well it's not as if the public sector is capable is it? The evidence is in the article.
The start of the PFI legacy. Strangely, I expect Labour won't be in a rush to highlight that. Like they don't mention their previous immigration policies.
put your brain in action . before your mouth
problem with the NHS trusts is that there are too many managers on mega pay scales which is costing the hospital thousands a week - get rid of some of them they're the ones bringing it down
It seems that the trust are required to have all these managers - the only staff they do not need are doctors and nurses - so those are the dispensable ones. But the income is based on people treated so income goes down and costs stay the same. There's no-one in the system with some economic sense.
The way Lansley tries to place the blame solely on the Labour government for this. The Tories introduced PFI under Major and, disgracefully, the Labour Party under Blair and Brown bought into it and expanded it, introducing more and more private sector principles into the NHS which Labour itself founded back in the 1940s. It was the jewel in the crown of Labour, now, along with the Tories, they have tarnished it. The NHS has been almost pared to the bone and different services being hived out to private business. For example, when did we ever have 'super-bugs'? Not long after the NHS cleaning staff were reduced and sold off to private companies like Initial. When did anyone remember patients being kept on trolleys in corridors, and what about those waiting lists? And nurses being made redundant, and wards and A&E units closed and, of course, private companies leasing back hospital sites (PFI) for millions per year for the next thirty years. What the Tories want is for the lucrative private sector to run the NHS, aided and abetted by Labour. They want us to eventually pay health insurance like in America...it's sick.
I din't think any Party has a crown and the NHS isn't a jewel it's a service, one that is really in crisis. Not helped by us offering free treatment to the rest of the world if the care to come here. 'Superbugs' are not caused by cleaners, they happen to be mostly antibiotic resistant. Gordon always anticipated increased government revenues(tax), it just didn't work out.
Oh crikey, being pedantic, are we? Okay, the NHS is a service. But the NHS WAS a significant achievement of the 1945 Labour government (by far a different animal to this present lot) and in THAT sense it was a 'crowning achievement'. Phew.
The NHS is probably one of the greatest inventions in the world and as such, the principal of free healthcare to anyone regardless of their ability to pay is the envy of people globally. Therefore i would consider it a jewel and of the most valuable type. Take it back to pre-thatcher days and it will get better
Chris wrote "For example, when did we ever have 'super-bugs'? Not long after the NHS cleaning staff were reduced and sold off to private companies like Initial." It is NHS managers that write the contract that the contractors are required to adhere to. It is the NHS managers responsibility to ensure the contractors comply with that contract It is therefore the NHS managers fault if the hospital is not getting cleaned properly due to the contract being written wrongly or failing to do anything about a company that does not perform. Too many turn a blind eye for an easy life We have just terminated a contract with a private contractor 2 months into a 3 year contract for failing to comply with the terms and conditions of the contract. They had 2 warning them were out It simple write a water tight contract and ensure the contractor follows it - if not terminate the contract -they soon get the message