Labour tells the Chancellor, as a staggering 15 per cent of NHS trusts are now in special measures
by Steve Sweeney
A STAGGERING 15 per cent of NHS trusts are now in special measures as the NHS funding crisis deepens.
St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is the latest in a “roll-call of high profile trusts” to be taken into special measures as they struggle to deal with an ongoing spending squeeze that will worsen under government plans, Health Campaigns Together spokesman John Lister said yesterday.
A Care Quality Commission report rated the trust, which serves 1.3 million people in south-west London, as inadequate, highlighting a number of concerns including operating theatres that were not fit for purpose.
St George’s helped draw up controversial plans as part of a Home Office pilot scheme demanding passports and ID from pregnant women before they gave birth.
Twenty-six NHS trusts are now in special measures, including Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which hit the headlines last year when staff were ordered to stop using ice in drinks and cut back on using paper to cut costs.
Mr Lister said: “[PM] Theresa May needs to tell [Chancellor] Philip Hammond to release the stranglehold on NHS funding.”
NHS Providers has said that there is now a “big risk” that NHS trusts won’t be able to maintain current levels of service, with chief executive Chris Hopson warning that the gap between funding and what the NHS is being asked to deliver is “too big and is growing rapidly.”
The NHS budget is set to be slashed by £25 billion by 2020-21 with Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) demanding that trusts deal with their deficits.
Campaigners have criticised the STPs, which see the NHS divided into 44 “Footprint” areas, as another top-down reorganisation designed as “a vehicle to drive through cuts.”
Under the secretive plans, trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities are working together to balance the books. Councillors in north-west London have refused to sign up to their STP over fears that Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals could lose their accident and emergency services.
Labour also sounded a warning on cuts, with shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth saying the announcement “brings the number of NHS acute trusts in special measures under this Tory government to a staggering 15 per cent.
“Some of the problems at St George’s — buildings and equipment not fit for purpose, A&E departments too small and overstretched, insufficient mental health assessment capacity — are occurring around the country, with hospitals starved of the capital investment they need to improve the situation.
“Unless they heed Labour’s call for proper funding for the NHS, public health and social care, things are only going to get worse.”