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Hospital trust that ran up a 200m debt is first to be axed
A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital will also be downgraded to urgent care only
Part of South London
Healthcare NHS Trust which has racked up debts of 200mFailing trust now the first to be dissolved
16:34 GMT, 31 January 2013
02:03 GMT, 1 February 2013
A failing hospital trust is to be scrapped after running up debts of 200million.
South London Healthcare is the first NHS trust ever to be dissolved.
The three hospitals it runs will be taken over by neighbouring trusts after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the organisation was losing money which was being taken away from patient care.
The South London Healthcare Trust, which runs three hospitals including Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich (pictured), is to be broken up
Although there have been some improvements to services in recent months, waiting times for some operations are among the longest in the country.
The trust runs Queen Mary’s in Sidcup, Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley, serving more than a million patients.
The decision to break it up by October sets a precedent for the Health Service and other failing hospitals could follow suit.
Ministers have ordered another 30 NHS trusts with combined debts of 300million to address their finances or face intervention.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt today announced that A&E and maternity services at Lewisham Hospital in south-east London are to be downgraded
Mr Hunt also announced that Lewisham A&E unit in South London would be scaled down to an urgent care centre.
The changes would save 100 lives a year as critically ill patients would be taken to larger, more specialised units at other hospitals, he said.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said the Lewisham A&E unit would be scaled-down into an urgent care centre
But Labour warned the plans would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ for other emergency departments across the country. Last Saturday more than 15,000 campaigners marched against the proposals, including some patients who said they owed their lives to the Lewisham unit.
Mr Hunt told the Commons: ‘The longstanding problems at South London Healthcare NHS Trust must not be allowed to compromise patient care in the future.
‘Hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on paying for debt rather than improving patient care for the local community in South-East London.
‘What is in the clinical interests of patients in South-East London has been at the heart of my decision-making process, and as a result I have followed clinical advice to keep open the A&E in Lewisham.
‘However, some changes need to be made so that money is spent on patient care rather than servicing historic debt. The decisions I have taken today will ensure that, and that patients in South-East London will be able to rely on the NHS for years to come.’
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham said: ‘Just when you thought this Government’s mis-management of the National Health Service couldn’t get any worse, it just has.
‘The Secretary of State has just crossed a line and set dangerous precedents, namely that in his new market-driven NHS finance takes precedence and any hospital is vulnerable to changes, no matter how successful, through back-door reconfiguration.’