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More changes to London's health services ahead

Speaking at a meeting of the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee, Dame Ruth Carnall DBE, Chief Executive of NHS London, said a significant amount of service and organisational change was needed as a significant number of Trusts will not achieve Foundation Status in their current form. 


The Committee heard that small hospitals, in particular, would find it increasingly difficult to meet the quality and financial standards required, but this could be overcome by bringing two organisations together or integrating services between acute trusts and community services. In other cases, hospitals were being held back by a set of historic problems – such as a very large PFI scheme.  


Dame Ruth Carnall expressed concern about the length of time it takes to get agreement on the changes, during which time quality of care can decrease and financial problems increase, but believed that reconfiguring hospital services would deliver a viable provider landscape. 


The Committee were told that the 2014 deadline for achieving Foundation Trust status would be extraordinarily challenging.  Unless proposals were agreed faster, the deadline would have to be extended for some trusts, while others may need to be run by administrators.   


Dame Ruth Carnall said there may be a need to further reconfigure services beyond Foundation Trust status in order to balance the need for centralised specialist care, like cancer and cardiovascular services, with localised provision.    


Murad Qureshi AM, Chair of the London Assembly Health and Environment Committee, said:


“Londoners have already been asked to respond to a number of proposals to reconfigure the capital’s NHS services and today we heard that there may be even more on the way.  This is an important issue for the whole of London and we will continue to scrutinise these vital services that we all depend on, including how a strategic overview will be maintained.”

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