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No bail out for merger hospitals crippled by £187million debts

PUBLISHED: 16:38 12 November 2008 | UPDATED: 09:46 12 August 2010

THE government has said they will not pay off the £187.2million combined debt of three hospitals that are now one step closer to merging.

THE government has said they will not pay off the £187.2million combined debt of three hospitals that are now one step closer to merging.

Bosses at Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup, Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, Woolwich, and Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust approved a merger recommendation made by the SE London Acute Trust Joint Committee, at their separate board meetings last week.

But the Department of Health confirmed on Monday they would not wipe out the £187.2million combined debt, even if the merger went ahead saying it would be unfair to other organisations.

This means the hope of the merged Trusts becoming a Foundation Trust would be extremely difficult as they would need to prove they were in control of their finances.

The Joint Committee have already admitted the merger will not enable the Trusts to repay the combined historic debt as they believe the debt is 'beyond their capacity'.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: "We have no plans to write off the £187.2million outstanding debt of the three Trusts.

"All NHS organisations must stay within their means and we cannot write off debt as a matter of course when they fail to do so. "This would be unfair to other organisations that have made tough decisions in order to stay within their budget."

Now the three Trusts will begin a 12-week consultation with staff and other stakeholders before they go ahead with the proposal which is scheduled to take place on April 1 next year.

The merger is expected to save the Trusts £2.6million in its first year, rising to £3.2million the year after.

This could result in redundancies in the top managerial jobs, their administrative staff and around 20 posts in the finance departments.

A spokesperson from Queen Elizabeth's Hospital, said: "The message from the board is divided the three hospitals will fall but united we may stand a chance of surviving."

Hospital boss quits before amalgamation

ONLY one permanent chief executive remains in office out of three health trusts lined up for a possible merger.

Queen Mary's Hospital (QMS) chief executive Kate Grimes announced last Tuesday she would be leaving the Trust after three years to manage Kingston Hospital NHS Trust ahead of a recommendation to merge the trusts in Bromley, Bexley and Woolwich.

A final date for her departure has yet to be agreed.

Her resignation leaves chief executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Dr David Robson as the only permanent boss in the three Trusts.

Chief executive of Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust Michael Marchment is only interim and started his six-month contract on June 13 this year.

Ms Grimes said: "A merged organisation will benefit from a new chief executive. While I am very sad to be going, this feels like a good time to move on."

Lewisham goes it alone

HOSPITAL bosses have refused to be part of plans to merge health trusts in the area.

Bosses at the University Hospital Lewisham Trust (UHL) refused to be part of a merger between Bromley Hospitals, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich and Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup.

They claim their future is separate from the other three hospitals despite them being included in the proposals by the committee A Picture of Health (APOH).

A spokesperson for the Lewisham board said: "Our natural alignment is with the inner London Foundation Trusts (Guy's and St Thomas's and King's College Hospitals) rather than the outer south-east London Trusts.

"We are now planning our services for the future, with the support of the Academic Health Science Centre (a partnership between Guy's and St Thomas', Kings, South London and Maudsley and King's College London) that will deliver the best possible care to the people of Lewisham.

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