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West Middlesex University Hospital Trust

Exclusive: Private franchise not ruled out as trust seeks merger

STRUCTURE: West Middlesex University Hospital Trust has become the latest district general hospital to say it cannot make foundation trust status on its own and seek a merger partner. It has not ruled out a private franchise management deal.

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HSJ has previously reported the £149m-turnover south west London trust was investigating a partnership with neighbouring £900m-turnover Imperial College Healthcare Trust.

The trust’s announcement did not make clear whether it would accept a bid for private franchise management, like Circle’s 10-year contract at Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust in Cambridgeshire.

A West Middlesex spokesman told HSJ no decision had been made.

In similar recent announcements Bedford Hospital Trust and Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital Trust both specified they would only consider NHS partners to achieve foundation trust-status.

In a statement chief executive Dame Jacqueline Docherty said: “Despite our optimism about the long term viability of the site, the trust is not able to meet the financial criteria required to become a standalone foundation trust by the Department of Health deadline of April 2014. The board has therefore agreed to explore partnership options that would enable us to meet the required timeline for FT status.

“As you will be aware, the preferred option for the North West London reconfiguration proposals will secure a healthy future in the long-term for our hospital site. However, the timetable for implementation means that the changes will not have a major impact on the trust’s income until 2015-16 and beyond.

“Pending any wider reconfiguration there will be a continued drive by commissioners to provide more care in the community, which will result in a reduction in the amount of money the trust receives. In addition the trust has yet to secure a resolution for our historic debt.”

The announcement was made while Dame Jacqueline was on holiday. The trust’s communications office said chairman Tom Hayhoe would not be answering questions on the move.

The trust’s future is being looked at as part of NHS North West London’s wider review of services across its eight constituent primary care trusts.

The cluster’s proposals are for Ealing, Central Middlesex and Charing Cross hospitals’ A&E units to be downgraded, but if Ealing’s politicians successfully resist the move West Middlesex would be the other option for downgrade, although this is thought unlikely considering the hospital’s recent PFI rebuild.

An earlier McKinsey analysis into the sustainability of London’s hospital sector, carried out for NHS London, said West Middlesex in its current form was “not viable under any tested scenario”.

Accompanying West Middlesex’s announcement this afternoon Daniel Elkeles, accountable officer for inner North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “We are committed to supporting West Middlesex University Hospital Trust’s board to develop a robust and sustainable future strategy for the West Middlesex site.”

Readers' comments (6)

  • David Hooper

    It seems to be the case that the imperative to meet the last Secretary of State's deadline for achieving FT status is more important than the provision of high quality sustainable health for a local population. Will any merger lead to the interests of the local population being put first, or are we moving to a situation where hospital care in London is provided at the behest of a small number of behemoths?

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  • It's a a bit crap really.
    I wonder when someone works out that until normalisation happens within an artificial market, then there are always going to be a decent number of Trusts providing great care, that look as though they're failing.

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  • The last Labour government has a lot to answer for in inventing Foundation Trusts which embody the fragmentation of the NHS. The population of West Middlesex deserve a full range of health services of the right quality but it seems that short term financial propriety is the key priority.

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  • sounds like an excuse for a poorly run trust other small DGH's have made foundation status in the past and are run well and around quality for patient care. small DGH with foundation status with a personal touch for the patient sounds ideal and where i would want to go. Large impersonal too big multi-sited Uni trusts such as Imperial and other mammoth london trusts. i would consider my idea of a nightmare to be treated in. when are we going to get people at the top with common sense and drive rather than fancy CVs but have actually achieved nothing. Don't blame a government policy and feel sorry for poor relation trusts, just expect the leaders of the poor relations to get their act together.

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  • The Balkanization of the NHS is a necessary precursor to privatization.

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  • West Middlesex has strong operational performance and in year financial performance. The Board are being responsible in considering how best to secure a sustainable future.

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