Boss of London hospital trust featured in BBC2 ‘cancelled operations’ documentary to quit

Ross Lydall  


The boss of the London hospital trust seen in a groundbreaking TV documentary battling against crisis levels of patient demand and cash shortages is to quit, the Standard can reveal. 

The revelation that highly respected Dr Tracey Batten is to leave Imperial College Healthcare, which runs five west London hospitals including St Mary’s and Charing Cross, will send shockwaves across the NHS. Many will see her departure as evidence of the impossible task that hospitals face contending with rising demands and diminishing resources. 

The trust has been openly criticised by its own consultants in the BBC2 documentary Hospital, which has given the public unprecedented insight into the scale of the NHS crisis. 

Patients have been seen having critical operations cancelled on numerous occasions — as entire surgical teams sit waiting in their scrubs and operating theatres go unused — because of a shortage of intensive care beds. 

The latest episode saw Imperial’s chief neurosurgeon, Kevin O’Neill, question if Imperial was right to send patients stuck on waiting lists to private hospitals for operations rather than keep the money within the NHS. 

Ms Batten, who was the highest-earning London chief executive in the NHS, earning £340,000, was recruited to Imperial in 2014. A trust spokeswoman confirmed she would return home to Australia later this year. 

Her decision comes after campaigners revealed that health chiefs in north- west London are secretly planning to axe 8,000 healthcare jobs in a bid to save cash as part of the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) that plans to downgrade Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.

Campaigners confronted Ms Batten with the figures this week, only for her to indicate she welcomed their success in making them public. The figures were obtained after a long freedom of information battle. The job cuts were unseen even by some of the councils involved. The plans include:

The loss of 3,658 NHS jobs in north-west London next year (2017/18) —  rising to 7,753 job losses by 2020/21. Almost 50,000 planned admissions and 222,370 outpatient appointments cut by 2020/21. 

The loss of 500 to 600 hospital beds with the closure of Charing Cross and Ealing as major acute hospitals A reduction in A&E attendances by 64,175 in the next five years.

GP superpractice tries to buy hospital and recruit GP trainees from China

Neil Roberts on the 2 December 2016  - Superpractice in talks to buy hospital and recruit GP trainees from China -

A 100,000-patient GP 'superpractice' in an NHS vanguard area plans to buy a hospital from a struggling foundation trust, and is in discussions with China about bringing medical students to train in England.

Robert Harris, chief executive of the Lakeside Healthcare group of practices - one of the biggest GP partnerships in England - is due to meet Chinese officials next week with a view to bringing students to train in its practices. The organisation is also planning a similar scheme for India and plans to buy a hospital from a foundation trust which is in financial difficulties, Mr Harris revealed.

Speaking at a Westminster Health Forum event in central London on Thursday Mr Harris said the superpractice, which is developing a vanguard multi-specialty community provider (MCP) around its five Northamptonshire practices, wanted to become a teaching and training practice of repute.


GP training

The Lakeside chief executive was visiting China this week, he revealed, 'talking to Chinese institutions and ministers about bringing Chinese students to come and train with us'. 'We are doing the same with India,' he added. Mr Harris, a former director of strategy at NHS England and investment banker, said he was looking to Asia for trainees partly because many of those recruited at home 'don't particularly want to stick around in general practice'. After going through training at the practice, he said, around 40% do want to remain in general practice. 'We convert people on the way to Damascus,' he said. Mr Harris said his group's commercial approach allowed it to pay staff well with a year-on-year uplift, capital value growth and more patients being seen. The 100,000-patient super-practice wants to expand through its MCP plans to 300,000 patients next year.

The MCP is expanding the role of practices to take on services traditionally provided in hospitals.

Mr Harris revealed that the group was buying a hospital from a foundation trust which he said was in 'serious financial difficulty'. 'On that site we plan to bring a number of practices into a new polyclinic, but also have a number of beds, about 35 to 40.' Beds could be used for a range of services including minor surgery and dentistry, he said. 'But we need to bring consultants out of hospitals around us to work in that setting. Supported with, working with my GP colleagues.' The CEO said he was 'delighted' to be surrounded by 'failing hospitals', because 'in hospital failure, there exists opportunity'. 'We can take them solutions... and opportunities for us.'


NHS funding

Lakeside has also asked commissioners to be able to take control of the full risk of a capitated budget for all its patients' care. 'The guarantee to commissioners is this: you give us the capitated sum of money, we don't come back asking for more, [which is]  the way the system has worked for the last 25 years.' However, the group was turned down.

Worcestershire LMC secretary Dr Simon Parkinson asked why GPs should be expected to take on 'personal financial liability' to expand and secure services to 'deal with the financial problems of the NHS'.

Former RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada warned that the Lakeside model was 'inventing [US-style] HMOs' [Health Management Organisations], and could [will] lead to providers cherry-picking profitable services 'or, you go bankrupt'.

In the United States, she said, 'the vast majority of these organisations go bankrupt'. She added: 'You only need a family of four to have a catastrophic car accident with lifelong care.



'Deeply worrying' waits for hospital beds

- BBC Health Correspondent - 7th December 2016

More than one in 10 patients in England face long delays for a hospital bed after emergency admission.

BBC analysis of NHS figures showed nearly 475,000 patients waited for more than four hours for a bed on a ward in 2015-16 - almost a five-fold increase since 2010-11. Hospitals reported using side rooms and corridors to cope with the growing number of "trolley waits".

NHS bosses acknowledged problems, blaming "growing demand" on the system.

But doctors said hospitals were now dangerously overcrowded, with three quarters of hospitals reporting bed shortages as winter hits.Bed occupancy is not meant to exceed 85% - to give staff time to clean beds, keep infections low and ensure patients who need beds can be found them quickly. But 130 out of 179 hospital trusts are reporting rates exceeding this for general hospital beds.

Hospital managers said the problem was causing "deeply worrying" delays for these patients. They are people who have already faced a wait to be seen in A&E but whose condition is deemed to be so serious they need to be admitted on to a ward. About one in five people who come to A&E fall into this category and it includes the frail elderly and patients with chest pains, breathing problems and fractures


Patients waiting more than four hours for a hospital bed
Source: NHS England. A change in the way figures are recorded in Dec 2015 has added an estimated 9% more to the total.
Does the NHS have enough beds?
Beds per 1,000 people
Source: OECD

Waiting for a bed

In England: 11%  of emergency patients face a 4 hour "trolley wait"

  • 5x increase in numbers waiting over 4 hours for a bed since 2011

  • 474,453 patients waited +4 hours for a bed 2015-16

  • 97,559 patients waited +4 hours for a bed 2010-11

NHS England & OECD


NHS trails rest of the EU for medics, beds and scanners and UK has shortest maternity stays of any country

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s annual report into EU healthcare shows that on a range of statistics Britain is faring badly:

  • UK has 2.8 doctors per 1,000 people – behind only Romania and Poland
  • Britain is also third worst for the number of hospital beds per head


Daniel Martin - Daily Mail - 24th November 2016


Britain has the shortest maternity stays and among the fewest hospital beds, doctors and cancer scanners in the EU, a study shows. It lays bare the extent to which the NHS is labouring, highlighting the fact that the UK has the third lowest number of hospital beds per head of population.

The average maternity stay of 36 hours, or 1.5 days – condemned as ‘conveyor belt care’ – puts Britain on a par with non-EU country Turkey. And this is less than half the EU average stay of 3.2 days, far lower than the 4.1 common in France and five in Croatia.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s annual report into EU healthcare shows that on a range of statistics Britain fares worse than a number of countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain.

The UK has just 2.8 practising doctors per 1,000 people – equal to Ireland and Slovenia, and behind only Romania and Poland.The EU average is much higher at 3.5, with Germany on 4.1 and Greece on 6.3. Even former Communist states such as Lithuania and Slovakia do far better. Britain’s poor performance comes despite the fact that the number of doctors has increased by more than 50 per cent since 2000. The shortage means doctors have much less time for consultations. 

British patients see a doctor on average five times a year, with only Denmark, Finland, Portugal and Sweden lower. The average across the EU is 7.1 consultations per patient, and in Germany it is 9.9.

The statistics are in the latest "Health at a Glance: Europe 2016" report by the OECD, which represents industrialised countries.

It found the UK has fewer nurses than the EU average – 8.2 per 1,000 people compared with 8.4. Britain is also third worst for the number of hospital beds per head of population. There are 2.7 beds per 1,000 people – better only than Ireland and Sweden. The EU average is 5.2, and in Germany it is 8.2.

Britain comes third bottom for MRI scanners and second to bottom – after Hungary – for CT scanners. The UK has 6.1 MRI scanners per million people, compared with 30.5 in Germany and 15.4 across the EU. And the country has only eight CT scanners per million, compared with 37.7 in Denmark and 21.4 across the EU.

The Royal College of Midwives has warned maternity cuts are leading to ‘conveyor belt care’. The RCM’s Louise Silverton said last night: ‘Our research in 2014 showed many women felt they were being sent home after giving birth before they were ready. When women go home should be based on clinical need taking account of the woman’s circumstances, not the needs of the organisation caring for them.’


Britain has the shortest maternity stays and among the fewest hospital beds in the EU, new statistics show


Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: ‘It’s frightening. These figures show that the NHS is scraping through.

‘It’s incredible that cuts are threatened all the time when we have so few beds and some hospitals can’t throw patients out fast enough.’

Liberal Democrat health spokesman Norman Lamb said: ‘These numbers lay bare the scale of the crisis – staff under incredible pressure, finances at breaking point and demand continuing to rise.’



Britain has the shortest maternity stays and among the fewest hospital beds in the EU, new statistics show

Britain has the shortest maternity stays and among the fewest hospital beds in the EU, new statistics show