This is Chris Streather, chief executive of the South London Healthcare Trust.

The trust’s changes to healthcare in south London have left Bexley as the only London borough without an A&E and Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s A&E department in Woolwich in turmoil.

The trust has now been battered by the Care Quality Commission, whose inspectors uncovered a chilling catalogue of errors ranging from confidential patient records left lying on trolleys to medicines stored in unlocked cupboards.

Staff morale is on the floor.

Is it time this man and his trust were sent packing?

We say yes.


AN independent care regulator has revealed its concerns about the quality and safety of healthcare being provided by the South London Healthcare Trust.

In some cases the trust is in breach of its legal responsibilities.

Following unannounced visits last September, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has given the trust until Friday (January 21) to produce an action plan to address the shortcomings.

The CQC has threatened enforcement action if the required improvements have not been made.

Its September visits were to Queen Mary’s Hospital, Sidcup, Princess Royal Hospital in Farnborough, Woolwich’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Beckenham Beacon outpatient hospital.

The CQC says it identified breaches in regulations covering staffing levels, standards of care, management of medicines, systems meant to assess care standards, safeguarding and record keeping.

However trust chief executive, Dr Chris Streather, welcomed the reports saying: “We know there are still improvements we have to make.”

He claimed: “In our first 20 months we have made some notable improvements,” citing improved stroke care and lower infection and mortality rates.

He added: “Overall, we are pleased the CQC found patients were happy with the care they are receiving, and our staff are professional and caring.”

Dr Streather said where the CQC had required improvements, the trust had taken steps to put them right.

He added: “Our priorities for this year will be to continue the steady progress we have already made, ensure the procedures pointed out by the CQC are put right, and develop our relationship with local GPs who, as the first port of call for most of our patients, will help us become a first class hospital.”


AMONG the concerns raised by the Care Quality Commission were:


Staff and patients at Queen Mary’s and the Queen Elizabeth spoke to CQC inspectors about their concerns at the shortage of clinical and support staff.

Staff also spoke about low morale and their feeling they were “invisible” to trust bosses who did not listen to their opinions.

The CQC was also concerned about the high number of staff without Criminal Records Bureau checks and the lack of support for career progression.


Inspectors were worried about the security and accuracy of patient records and reported finding them lying on open desks or unlocked trolleys.

There were also gaps and inaccuracies in the records which were bulky, disorganised and could sometimes not be found when needed.


The CQC found medicines stored in unlocked cupboards at the Princess Royal and Queen Elizabeth and there were gaps, omissions and inconsistences across all the hospitals in the records of patient medication.

There was also a lack of information for patients about medicines prescribed while in hospital and about those provided on discharge.


Inspectors found there were problems at Queen Mary’s with making sure patients were encouraged to eat and given help if they needed it. A system of serving food on red trays to identify those who needed help was not working properly.

Full details of the three reports are available at


MP James Brokenshire has written to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley in the wake of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) findings, urging him to consider removing South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) from running the Bromley, Bexley and Greenwich hospitals.

The MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup says the creation of the trust in April 2009 was “an experiment which failed” and it was now time to go in a different direction.

Mr Brokenshire said there had been a reasonable argument when the trust was created, it would create economies of scale and drive up quality of care.

He added: “But that has not been the reality.”

Mr Brokenshire said he did not believe SLHT and the A Picture of Health (APOH) proposals were the answer to the area’s healthcare problems He has suggested to Mr Lansley the three hospitals should be absorbed into one or more of the trusts running London’s teaching hospitals, such as King’s College or Guy’s and St Thomas’s.

Mr Lansley is currently considering the future of the APOH proposals.


Bexleyheath and Crayford MP David Evennett said: “I was very concerned about the problems highlighted by the investigations, particularly with regards to medicines, care, safeguarding and welfare of patients, record-keeping and staff morale.

“As SLHT has existed as an organisation for nearly two years, I am surprised many of these had not been addressed before.”

Councillor Ross Downing who chairs Bexley Council’s health scrutiny committee said: "It is clear residents across the borough are experiencing poor levels of care and while, staff are doing their best, there are just not enough to cope.

“The inspectors found staff working unacceptably long hours, and essential care such as adequate safety for the most vulnerable patients being compromised and this is just not good enough.”

Helen Ellis, 52, from Plumstead Common, set up the Niekrash Law Group to protest against the trust’s treatment of Dr Ramon Niekrash, a consultant urologist, who in 2008 blew the whistle on problems at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich’s urology department.

She is now calling for the resignation of the SLHT chief executive Dr Chris Streather and George Jenkins, chairman of the trust board.

Mrs Ellis said: “Nothing about the report surprises me.

“It’s about time all of this started coming out.

“I’ve actually said to Dr Streather myself that the best thing for him to do would be to resign.

“Nobody there is doing enough to sort these problems out.”

She is planning a protest at the Queen Elizabeth next month. To find out more about the protest,email

Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, said: “This report presents a damning assessment of the SLHT and patients and staff alike will, quite rightly, be questioning whether this body is capable of delivering the standards of care we expect in our local hospitals.”

He added: “The case for disruptive reconfiguration plans has been undermined heavily by these revelations and, in the interests of improving patient services and staff moral, I would urge SLHT to do the right thing and restore appropriate acute services at Queen Mary’s Hospital as swiftly as possible.”

Orpington MP Jo Johnson said: “These are the standards of care patients have a right to expect in any hospital, and I will hold the trust management to account if it continues to fail to meet them.”

Bob Stewart, Beckenham MP, also expressed his concern and said he would be seeking a meeting with trust chief executive Dr Chris Streather as soon as possible.