Jul 12 2012
An NHS Trust which is losing £1 million a week has become the first in the country to be put under the control of a special administrator, the Department of Health (DH) announced.
South London Healthcare NHS Trust has been put on the "unsustainable providers regime" and an administrator has been tasked with putting it on a viable footing, a DH spokesman said.
Matthew Kershaw, who works as the national director for provider delivery at the DH, was appointed as special administrator. He will take over the board and recommend measures to the Health Secretary to put the trust's finances on a sustainable basis.
The DH sent letters to the chair and directors informing them they are suspended from board duties. But some of the directors will support Mr Kershaw in developing solutions for the struggling trust.
South London Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs three hospitals, has been criticised over standards of care and has run up deficits of more than £150 million over the past three years. Despite efforts to improve its financial performance, it is still thought to be on track to lose between £30 and £75 million a year for the next five years.
The trust runs Queen Mary's in Sidcup, the Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich and the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley. Sources close to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said long-standing difficulties had been made worse by Labour's merger of the three hospitals' smaller trusts in April 2009 and by two PFI deals that are now costing £61 million a year in interest.
They said the hospital's deficit last year - covered by money from elsewhere in the NHS budget - was equivalent to the salaries of 1,200 nurses or 200 hip replacements a week.
Mr Kershaw who used to work as chief executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust, will take charge of the Trust on Monday July 16. After examining the long-standing difficulties at the Trust he will publish a report on October 29 this year.
He will then launch a 30-day consultation with staff, patients and the public on the draft report. A final report will be submitted to Mr Lansley on January 8.
Mr Lansley said: "Past efforts have not succeeded in putting the South London Healthcare Trust on a sustainable path. This will be a big challenge and my key objective for all NHS Trusts is to ensure they deliver high-quality services to patients that are clinically and financially sustainable for the long term."