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Relief as Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup stays open but concerns over cuts remain
PATIENTS and politicians have expressed their relief at news Queen Mary’s Hospital will stay open - but there are still concerns over cuts to some services.
The Sidcup hospital is part of the South London Healthcare NHS Trust that will have a debt of more than £200m by March next year.
Special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, who was called in to run the failing trust, announced his recommendations on Monday.
He decided Queen Mary’s Hospital should become Bexley Health Campus providing some urgent care, day case elective surgery, endoscopy and radiotherapy.
However, if the plans do get the government green light, inpatient surgery would not run from the hospital meaning patients travelling to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich or Darent Valley in Dartford.
This has alarmed South London Healthcare Trust Patients Council member, Ron Brewster.
He said: "Queen Mary’s Hospital seems to have been saved. But 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.
"If people want to drive, the parking charges are astronomical. They even charge for disabled people."
Parking currently costs £4 for three to four hours and £5 for four to 24 hours.
Mr Brewster's thoughts were echoed by Erith and Thamesmead MP Teresa Pearce.
She said: "We have to make sure the transport system can cope.
"It’s very difficult to get from Darent Valley Hospital from Erith for example."
The report also recommended the hospital site be transferred or sold to Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust, which already owns one of the Queen Mary’s buildings.
As a result Oxleas would need to lease space to other providers that would bid for contracts. Ms Pearce said: "What is important is that people get the right care.
"But if Oxleas takes it over they may use external contractors and I would want to know who they are."
Big changes affecting Bexley have been recommended in the South London Healthcare NHS Trust report.
Administrator Matthew Kershaw has suggested that "vacant and poorly utilised premises" at the Queen Mary's site should be sold off.
Another recommendation is that an inpatient mental health centre should be developed on the Queen Mary’s site.
More generally the report recommended the trust be dissolved and that other organisations take over the management and delivery of services.
It also suggested debts to the Department of Health should be written off.
Old Bexley and Sidcup MP, James Brokenshire, welcomed the report.
He 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."
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.
"I believe these changes could help to preserve the long-term future of the Queen Mary’s site and provide vital healthcare facilities for Bexley residents."
Bexley Council leader Councillor Teresa O’Neill said: "I am very pleased Queen Mary’s Hospital will become a Bexley Health Campus providing services for local people".
A consultation on the recommendations starts on Friday (November 2) and runs until midnight on December 13.
Other key recommendations:
- Closing A&E at Lewisham Hospital - Shutting Lewisham Hospital's maternity unit or making it a standalone obstetric-led delivery facility.
- Improving "operational efficiency", slashing £79m across the trust sites over three years - including cutting 140 full time staff.
- The PRUH in Bromley could be acquired by King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.