North Central London STP: Plan to save local NHS finances ‘not yet found’, health chief admits

The man overseeing a radical plan to ward off a funding crisis in north London’s health services has said a solution has “not yet been found”. David Stout, director of the "North Central London Sustainability and Transformation Plan" (STP), today told Islington councillors – along with others from Camden, Haringey, Barnet and Enfield – that he did not know how to ward off an impending £876 million health budget deficit.

The five boroughs have been forced to come together to devise a plan to dramatically improve health and social care finances, with one potential move being the “consolidating” of departments across the Whittington, Royal Free and University College hospitals.

Questioned by the cross-council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee at Hendon Town Hall, Mr Stout said: “If we do nothing, the gap in our finances would grow to something like £900m in five years. “But we’re not going to do nothing – we wouldn’t be allowed to do nothing.” He added: “A solution to that scale of financial gap has not yet been found. We still need to do more work on that.”

Mr Stout also said investment was essential to the future of the health service but stressed “costs could be reduced” and efficiencies implemented.

Former Whittington chief exec David Sloman, now CEO at the Royal Free and accountable officer - "lead" - of the STP, said the future of the trust’s 38 sites would be included in financial discussions.

“When I used to work there, about 50 per cent of the estate of the hospital was good,” he said of the Archway-headquartered trust. “The other half was residual Victoriana.”

The chair of Islington CCG, meanwhile, said she was concerned about the next few months of healthcare in her borough as well as the next five years. “We are about to go into winter and we are holding our heads above water,” Jo Sauvage said. “What we need to do is confront debt, not shunt it away.”

Whittington Health deputy chief exec Siobhan Harrington was later asked about the status of her trust’s Lower Urinary Tract Services (LUT) clinic in Hornsey, which closed last year. “As soon we are in a position to reopen, we will,” she said, adding that should happen “within a year – I hope sooner”. Patient safety was an issue being considered, she said, but discussions between the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the clinic were taking place.

 
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