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.