Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust's rocky finances: overspends to cause ITU beds closure at Hammersmith Hospital
Revealed: Memo which shows financial crisis at NHS Trust closing A&E services in west London
A boss at the NHS trust that today shut a leading west London A&E department has issued a stark warning about the “awful” state of its finances.
In an internal memo titled “Finances — urgh!” Professor Jamil Mamet, who heads the surgery and cancer division of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said it had overspent by £1.8?million in July alone on the back of similar overspends in April and May,
The July 15 memo threatens the scrapping of the trust’s application for self-governing “foundation” status, partially independent from the NHS, if the situation does not improve. It also outlines tough measures to curb spending including “closure of unfunded ITU [intensive care] beds at HH [Hammersmith Hospital]. Three beds to close now and two beds next week”.
The memo, seen by the Standard, says: “I’m sorry to report that our Divisional and Trust finances are awful this month?...?What has become clear this month is that we don’t have adequate control of our spending.”
The accident and emergency unit at Hammersmith Hospital was today replaced with a 24-hour “urgent care centre” which will only be able to deal with walk-in patients. Another A&E unit at Central Middlesex hospital in Acton also closed today.
Hammersmith and Fulham’s Labour council leader Steve Cowan said: “With one side of their mouth Imperial are telling the Care Quality Commission inspectors that they’re fit and ready to take on the new freedoms that go with foundation hospital status.
“But with the other, they’re telling clinicians and nurses that their finances are so ‘awful’ they will have to halt important hospital care and consider withdrawing their application for foundation status. This is further evidence of Imperial’s critical weaknesses. They now need to come clean about the true state of their finances.”
A spokeswoman for the trust said no intensive care beds at Hammersmith Hospital had been closed because of cash shortages but they had been “reconfigured” so that the unit “works more efficiently”. She also claimed the Foundation Trust application was still on track. She said: “The division has been working hard to bring its budget into line by careful focus on initiatives to increase efficiency while maintaining the quality of care.”
Activists today gathered outside Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals to protest the A&E closures.