'Hit squad' sent into crisis NHS trust that is losing 1m a weekSouth London Healthcare NHS trust has gone 150million in the red over the past three yearsMany of the debts run up thanks to PFI deals agreed by Labour that will cost 2.5billion in the long termPatients face some of the longest waiting times for operations in the country

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UPDATED:

23:15 GMT, 25 June 2012


Emergency treatment: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has drafted in a crisis team to deal with problems at South London NHS Trust

Emergency treatment: Health Secretary Andrew
Lansley has drafted in a crisis team to deal with problems at South
London Healthcare NHS Trust

A hospital trust that has run up debts of 1million a week today becomes the first to be put into special measures .

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley will send in a crisis team of doctors, administrators and accountants to take control of South London Healthcare NHS Trust.

It has gone 150million into the red over the past three years, largely because of crippling Private Finance Initiative deals agreed by the last Labour government.

Its three hospitals will cost 2.5billion under the long-term construction and management scheme.

The financial chaos has already hit patient care at the hospitals – Queen Mary’s in Sidcup, Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley.

While services have improved in recent months, patients still face some of the longest waits for operations in the country.

One in six patients waited longer than the 18-week Government target – the worst figure for any NHS trust in London.

It also performs poorly on casualty unit waiting times, ranking 20th out of 23 trusts in the capital. Some departments and wards face closure.

Mr Lansley has activated an ‘unsustainable providers regime’, putting the trust under the control of a special administrator with powers to demand rapid changes.

The Health Secretary stepped in after draft financial plans showed the trust would have a deficit of 30-75million a year for the next five years.

Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup: The trust has gone 150million into the red over the past three years, largely because of crippling Private Finance Initiative deals agreed by the last Labour government

Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup: The trust has
gone 150million into the red over the past three years, largely because
of crippling PFI deals agreed by Labour

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich: South London Healthcare NHS Trust's three hospitals will cost 2.5billion under the long-term construction and management scheme

Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich: The trust's three hospitals will cost 2.5billion under the
long-term construction and management scheme

Princess Royal University Hospital, Bromley: One in six patients waited longer than the 18-week Government target  the worst figure for any NHS trust in London

Princess Royal University Hospital, Bromley: One
in six patients waited longer than the 18-week Government target – the
worst figure for any London NHS trust

In his letter to the trust, he wrote: ‘South London Healthcare NHS Trust faces deep and longstanding challenges, some of which are not of its own making.

'Nonetheless, there must be a point when these problems, however they have arisen, are tackled.’

A Department of Health source said Mr Lansley was not prepared to run the risk of a repeat of the Mid Staffordshire scandal in which poor quality care and mismanagement led to the needless deaths of hundreds of patients.