Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Doctors attack health trust plan

A review concluded South London Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs three hospitals in the capital, should be broken up

Plans to dissolve a debt-ridden NHS Trust which was on the brink of bankruptcy could have a "devastating" effect on a financially stable trust nearby, doctors have said.

South London Healthcare NHS Trust (SLHT), which runs three hospitals in the capital, was the first to be placed in administration after it started losing around £1.3 million a week.

Special administrator Matthew Kershaw recommended the trust should now be broken up, with other organisations taking over the management and delivery of its services.

The proposals would result in a radical overhaul of services in south London - including significant changes to nearby Lewisham Healthcare NHS Trust (LHT).

Mr Kershaw earmarked University Hospital Lewisham's A&E department for closure and suggested its maternity ward should be turned into a midwife-led unit.

Under his plans, the emergency department - which recently completed a £12 million revamp - would be downgraded to an "urgent care" unit.

But campaigners said if the A&E department at LHT was downgraded it would lead to the closure of other departments at the hospital.

And Tony O'Sullivan, consultant paediatrician at LHT, said the move would have a "devastating" effect on the trust.

"They are talking about shutting down all the emergency services - which really does rip out the heart of the hospital - and people will look elsewhere for their medical care," he said."

John O'Donohue, consultant physician at LHT, branded the proposals a "travesty" and said the special administrator had "ignored the views of experts and the public". He warned: "If services at a successful and well-run hospital like Lewisham are closed due to problems at a neighbouring trust, then no hospital in London, or the country, is safe."

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