Two prominent London trust mergers take effect today, with the new organisations facing multimillion pound deficits.
Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals trust, formed by a merger of Wellhouse trust and Chase Farm Hospitals trust, could be facing a combined deficit of almost£6m, according to pressure group London Health Emergency and Barnet community health council.
And Epsom and St Helier trust, formed by a merger between Epsom Healthcare trust and St Helier trust, is facing a situation that has 'worsened' since a consultation document predicted a£2.7m starting deficit.
Senior managers from Wellhouse and Chase Farm trusts rejected the£6m figure, but were unable to agree the exact position.
Liz Heyer, acting chief executive of the merged trust, and former chief executive at Chase Farm, said the combined deficit would be between£4m and£4.6m.
She said the breakdown of deficits between the two trusts was 'pretty much 50-50', with 'the Wellhouse deficit just slightly more'.
But a spokesperson for Wellhouse trust said it would enter the merger with a£2.4m deficit, while Chase Farm would bring debts of£1.3m. He said Ms Heyer's higher figure took account of 'the underfunding of the nurses' pay award' and 'ongoing discussions' about service arrangements.
Enfield and Haringey health authority - Chase Farm's main commissioner - has made it clear that it does not want the trust to 'bail out' Wellhouse, which has a long history of financial problems.
Judy Hargadon, chief executive of Barnet HA, said she could not comment on the figures because she 'had not been involved in the most recent work' on them, but the deficit was 'a matter for the trust'.
She said she did not expect services to be cut.
But Barnet CHC chair Elizabeth Manero said: 'At the moment the risk is being borne by the patients who end up lying in hospital trolleys in accident and emergency.'
Estimates for Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth HA show St Helier trust alone is facing 'cost pressures' of£3.75m for the financial year starting this week.
Mid-Surrey CHC chair Janet Holah, who opposed the merger, complained that local trusts and HAs gave 'different figures every time we deal with them'.