THE immediate future of Queen Mary’s Hospital in Sidcup has been secured after its new owner’s £30 million plans for the site were given the thumbs up.
Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust will takeover the hospital on October 1 after its current operator South London Healthcare Trust is dissolved.
Plans to invest £30 million over five years to improve facilities at the site have been approved by the Oxleas governors and Monitor, the regulator of health services in England.
In an arrangement branded unique by the trust, Oxleas will be joined in providing services at Queen Mary’s by Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas NHS Foundation Trust, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust and Bexley Council.
But there will be no new A&E department to replace the one closed ‘temporarily’ in 2009 but never reopened, according to Oxleas medical director Dr Ify Okocha.
Dr Okocha told News Shopper: "As far as we know there is no talk of that. We have been running an urgent care centre from the site for quite a few years which treats 40,000 people a year which we will continue to run."
Dr Ify Okocha is excited about the future for Queen Mary's.
The consultant psychiatrist sought to assure residents the trust was committed to Queen Mary’s after a decade of uncertainty around the hospital’s future and claimed having so many providers on one site would bring the best quality services to patients.
He said: "We are here, we are not going anywhere and we are financially quite robust.
"Oxleas is making it possible for all of these organisations to provide services for residents in the Bexley area and I think it’s quite exciting.
"It will be challenging but I am particularly pleased an NHS organisation has got it because it could be in private hands."
Dr Okocha was diplomatic over the fallout from the dissolution of debt-ridden South London Healthcare Trust which has seen the government take on campaigners over the future of A&E services at Lewisham Hospital.
He said: "What clinicians there tell me is that they are opposed to being dictated to in terms of how they should run the new organisation.
"I am torn because as a doctor in south east London and given the financial challenges we face, I understand the need to cut our cloth accordingly but at the same time we have to ensure that residents in the local area are not disadvantaged."
MPs welcome Oxleas
James Brokenshire, MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup said: "I am delighted that the transfer of Queen Mary's Hospital to Oxleas has been approved.
"It opens a new chapter for Queen Mary's, providing sound foundations for existing services as well as important new facilities such as the radiotherapy centre enabling patients to be treated in Sidcup.
"After years of uncertainty, this secures the positive future for the hospital so many people have urged.
David Evennett outside Queen Mary's.
"I welcome the new opportunities Oxleas ownership will provide for high quality healthcare services for the benefit of Bexley residents."
Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett added: "I strongly welcome this arrangement as I have campaigned to help secure the future of the Queen Mary’s Hospital site on behalf of my constituents.
"It ensures that important services can be provided for local people and I am pleased that Oxleas will invest in this site over the next five years. Oxleas are an excellent healthcare provider who I am sure will add real value."