Bureaucracy and targets are no greater in the NHS than in the private sector, King's College foundation trust's new chief executive Tim Smart has insisted.

Mr Smart joined the south London trust from BT Global Services UK three months ago, becoming the first foundation chief executive to come directly from the private sector.

He told HSJ: "One of the things people said to me [when I accepted the job] was there was so much bureaucracy and central control, and I haven't found that to be so…

"Everybody told me about these targets from the centre, but actually in large businesses it is very rare that you set your own targets."

Stability

Mr Smart said his contact with regulators had been "encouraging" and there was a "real opportunity" to surpass targets and strive for excellence. He said it was right London trusts were moving to foundation status more quickly now.

He said he wanted stability among the south east London trusts proposing to merge - Bromley Hospitals, Queen Mary's Sidcup and Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich - because of demand for urgent care in the area.

"We don't want them to fail and the reason for that is we are bursting at the seams and we don't want lots of ambulances arriving at the door because other hospitals have reduced the amount of emergency surgery they are doing," he said.

King's has extended its own capacity by establishing a 20-bed ward in unused space at nearby University Hospital Lewisham.