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Bexley and North Kent reaction to NHS Trust announcement
MPS, patients and trusts have reacted to proposed changes to the South London Healthcare Trust which will see it being dissolved.
The trust’s special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, published a draft report on his recommendations for the trust this morning.
Lewisham Hospital's A&E is set to close, with blue light cases going to Queen Elizabeth – a Woolwich hospital which, when busy, already diverts some cases to Darent Valley.
Administrator Matthew Kershaw's recommendations, published on Monday (Oct 29), will go out for a 30-day consultation on Friday.
A final report will go the Secretary of State for Health early next year, who will have the final say on the plans.
- The trust is dissolved and other organisations should take over the management and delivery of the NHS services it provides.
- The Department of Health provides additional funds to the local NHS to cover the excess costs of the private finance initiative buildings at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich, and the Princess Royal University Hospital, Farnborough.
- Improving "operational efficiency" of trust sites, including cutting the workforce.
- Developing Queen Mary's Hospital into a Bexley Health Campus, providing day case elective surgery, endoscopy and radiotherapy. It would be owned by Oxleas NHS Trust. Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust would provide case elective surgery on an interim basis.
- Selling off "vacant and poorly utilised premises" around the Queen Mary's site and Bromley estate.
- A £20m to £25m investment from the Department for Health to cover the costly PFI costs which funded Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Pru.
- Closing Lewisham Hospital A&E department with emergency care for south east London provided by King's College Hospital, St Thomas's, Queen Elizabeth and the Pru.
- Either shutting Lewisham Hospital's maternity unit or making it a standalone obstetric-led delivery facility.
- Making Lewisham Hospital an elective centre for non-complex inpatient procedures like hip and knee replacements.
- The sale of Orpington Hospital and Beckenham Beacon.
- Write-off of trust PFI debts - said to make up one-third of the overall deficit.
Organisational changes As part of Mr Kershaw's recommendations the trust would be broken up with other organisations taking over its services.
- Queen Elizabeth and Lewisham would merge to create a new organisation.
- The Pru could be acquired by King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. An alternative would see a procurement process allowing any NHS or private sector provider to bid for its services.
A public consultation exercise is now set to take place, starting on Friday (November 2).
To have your say on the proposals, visit tsa.nhs.uk
South London Healthcare Trust Patients Council member, Ron Brewster, said: “If you close Lewisham Hospital, how is Queen Elizabeth going to cope because they can’t cope at the moment.
“The A & E at Queen Elizabeth is an absolute disaster, the waiting times are absolutely horrendous.
“Queen Mary’s Hospital seems to have been saved.
“The big problem is transport. There is not the infrastructure to get people to Darent Valley.
“It’s easier to get to Guy’s and St Thomas’s in central London than it is to get to Darent Valley.
“Some people will have to get two or three buses and that’s difficult if they are ill.
"And if people want to drive, the parking charges are astronomical.
“There simply isn’t enough money left in the health service so private companies will come in.”
A Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust spokesman said: “We welcome the recommendations made by Matthew Kershaw, the Trust Special Administrator, in his draft report to the Secretary of State.
“We have a long standing, good relationship with the people of Bexley and currently provide its residents with a range of elective, emergency and maternity services.
“We are pleased to see that it is recommended that we should now provide day case elective surgery and endoscopies at Queen Mary’s Hospital and hope that this will become a permanent arrangement.
“However, it is too soon to speculate on the outcome of these recommendations.
“The report goes out for public consultation on Friday 2 November and the Secretary of State’s will announce his decision in February 2013.”
Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith and Thamesmead said: “It looks as though Darent Valley is going to run elective surgery and that’s the bit that makes quite a bit of money.
“That might drain the money out of south London healthcare into Kent.
“The closure of an A&E is very serious and I don’t think there is the capacity anywhere else.
“Given the circumstances for the people in my constituency it’s quite a good result.
“There was a great fear that services would be given to private companies but that hasn’t materialised which is good.
“But if Oxleas takes it over they may use external contractors and I would want to know who they are.
“It is good that the structural debt won’t be carried forward.
“You can’t make that amount of savings without job losses. But I hope the job losses can be done within agency staff and not full-time staff.
“We also have to make sure the transport system can cope. It’s very difficult to get form Darent Hospital from Erith for example. That’s something we need to look at.
“It’s very important that people take part in the consultation on Friday.”
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett said: “I welcome the draft report’s recommendation that SLHT will be split up and that a Bexley Health Campus established on the Queen Mary’s Hospital site in Sidcup.
“The report sets out a positive vision that would include new cancer services being developed on the site and also become an important centre for urgent care services.
“I believe that these changes could help to preserve the long-term future of the Queen Mary’s site and provide vital healthcare facilities for Bexley residents.”
Old Bexley and Sidcup MP James Brokenshire said: “Combining three struggling NHS organisations into one single body was very high risk and has ended up creating a super failing trust.
"The administrator's recommendations set out a positive future for Queen Mary's. Putting the hospital under new NHS ownership is an essential step.
“It will give Queen Mary's greater financial stability and extricate the hospital from the huge PFI burdens linked to neighbouring hospitals which have literally been sucking the life out of it.
“The huge long-term and onerous liabilities attached to the PFI contacts signed up years before have also acted like a millstone dragging performance down.
“Endorsement of the so called 'campus plan' for a variety of hospital and community care is great news and the establishment of formal links with Darent Valley Hospital could provide opportunities for additional services in the future.
"It is right that clear proposals are now forthcoming to deal with the dire position of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust.
"If action hadn't been taken through the appointment of the administrator and confirmation from the Department of Health that additional funding would be made available to deal with the PFI problems, the sustainability of hospital services could have been drawn into serious question.
“There are points in the administrators report which will need careful scrutiny, including capacity at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to meet patient demands, but on balance these proposals do offer a positive way forward."
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