South London Health Care Trust has been put under Administration because of a very large financial deficit. This has arisen because of the interest payments necessary to repay the Private Finance Initiative debts incurred for the building of the Princess Royal University Hospital and Beckenham Beacon. There has also allegedly been poor management. The Trust Special Administrator, Matthew Kershaw, published his draft report on 2 November. Consultation on his recommendation lasts until 13 December.
The website is www.tsa.nhs.uk Paper copies should be in libraries shortly, though there have been complaints about the lack of paper copies and the very short time scales which people have to respond.
WBRA will carefully consider the Administrator’s Report and will respond.
Report of discussion at the WBRA/ CCARA Open Meeting on 7 November.
We were fortunate to engage, at very short notice, Meredith Collins of the newly formedCCG(Clinical Commissioning Group) for our area as a speaker. (Note – CCGs will replace PCTs – Primary Care Trusts – nationally from April 2013.) In answer to a question from the floor, Mr Collins said there were 6 local GPs on theCCG, plus 3 lay members.
Three main aspects of the Administrator’s report are of particular concern to people in Beckenham:
- The future of Beckenham Beacon
- The breaking up of the SLHCT and the implications for the PRUH
- The proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital’s A&E Department
1. The Administrator wishes to withdraw services from the Beacon on the grounds that savings of £1.7 million could be made. He alleges that the part of the building leased by SLHT is under-used. There are technical issues regarding the 25 year lease held by the Trust. Mr Collins, however, said that theCCGwould want to commission services from other providers at the Beacon to replace those lost if SLHT withdrew, and indeed wants to increase use of the building. One speaker from the floor suggested that a further GP practice should be encouraged to use the accommodation. The audience comments indicated that people were not so much concerned about which organisation would be in charge of the Beacon, but that the excellent services currently provided there, eg the minor injuries unit, the GP practice walk-in and the diagnostic services should continue, and be enhanced.
2. The Administrator’s report suggested that Kings College Hospital could take over the PRUH, and failing that, any NHS or ‘independent’ (ie private sector) providers could be encouraged to do so. The emphasis in the report is that services should be removed from hospitals and provided near or in people’s homes – community centres were mentioned as one possibility. Jim Dowd MP pointed out that there is no indication that Kings would in fact be interested in taking over the hospital, in which case its future would be very uncertain.
3. Jim Dowd found the proposed closure of Lewisham Hospital A&E ‘bizarre’, pointing out that it is constantly much in demand at present. Cllr John Getgood said that it is the nearest A&E for people living in Penge and West Beckenham.
Bob Stewart MP suggested that everyone respond to the consultation, listing which services they would like to see at the Beckenham Beacon. One speaker from the floor pointed out that the consultation is currently only on-line, which discriminates against those without internet access.