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.”