PERFORMANCE: King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust has been told to reduce waiting times and make improvements to its finances, following an investigation by Monitor.

The regulator launched an investigation into the major teaching hospital last month because of longstanding problems at Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley, which King’s took over in 2013.

The regulator said that although King’s had made progress in improving services at Princess Royal this had not been “sufficient” and the “challenge is greater than initially anticipated”.

Princess Royal Hospital, Bromley, South London Healthcare NHS Trust

The takeover of Princess Royal University Hospital has been costly for King’s

The takeover has been costly, and King’s recently received £10m from the NHS Trust Development Authority on top of the £192m over five years agreed as part of the takeover deal.

The trust now has a £42.5m deficit.

It has struggled to meet the four hour accident and emergency target for over a year. It also has one of the largest backlogs of patients waiting over 18 weeks for elective treatment.

The trust has now agreed one and two year financial recovery plans and a plan to deliver the improvements at Princess Royal that King’s planned to make when it took over two years ago.

It will also put together a longer term plan by working with NHS England and local commissioners to improve patient services.

Monitor will closely monitor the trust’s progress in making the required improvements and will take further action if required.

A spokesman for the trust said it had taken a “deliberate decision” to prioritise patient care over financial performance. 

This included using agency staff to fill vacant nursing positions at an “increased cost”.

Roland Sinker, who is acting chief executive while Tim Smart is off sick, said: “We are pleased with the progress we have made in a short space of time. This is down to the hard work of our staff and our local health partners. However, as we always knew, building on and improving the care delivered to patients at PRUH couldn’t happen overnight, and this has proved to be the case.

“We welcome the findings of Monitor’s investigation, and will continue to work with them to deliver our plans for PRUH. Our priority is to improve services at PRUH, and the trust’s financial position.

“We are also pleased that the need for a system-wide solution has been recognised. This is a key part of delivering improvements in patient care, as well as addressing the financial and capacity challenges in south east London. We will be working closely with Monitor and other stakeholders to address the financial and capacity challenges both in the trust and in the wider health economy.”