STRUCTURE: The specialist hospital at the centre of a High Court battle over paediatric heart surgery has ruled out merging with a large London neighbour.
The Royal Brompton and Harefield Foundation Trust was last week told it would not be one of the centres providing the service, three months after its legal challenge was dismissed.
The £300m-turnover trust, based in Chelsea, stands to lose nearly 10 per cent of its income as a result of the ruling. Other trusts to lose services are University Hospitals of Leicester and Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust.
Royal Brompton’s 2011-12 annual plan, written before the outcome of the review was known, said: “Through a series of knock-on impacts on paediatric respiratory and adult congenital heart disease services, [the decision] would not only put at risk £28m of income but also greatly damage the strategic mission of the trust.”
A special meeting of the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts, chaired by NHS Midlands and East chief executive Sir Neil McKay, ruled the trust would no longer provide the service.
Sir Neil said: “The needs of children, not the vested interests of hospitals, have been at the heart of this review. We only took the decision after undergoing a robust, fair and transparent process which has already withstood the scrutiny of the highest courts in the land.”
The trust this week ruled out a merger with Imperial College Healthcare Trust, which has a turnover of more than £900m.
A spokeswoman for Royal Brompton said: “No decision has been made to relocate from our current Chelsea site. We have been looking at prospective land opportunities in the White City area and elsewhere but do not expect to make a decision before the end of the fiscal year. The ruling on children’s cardiac services has not influenced our approach to this issue.”
In November, Royal Brompton and Harefield won a High Court action against the committee – the first time one NHS organisation has taken legal action against another. But the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal in April.
In a statement, Royal Brompton and Harefield chief executive Bob Bell said: “I will now discuss this decision with the trust’s board and governors’ council to determine our next steps. One thing is certain – I will not be asking them for the mandate to manage the destruction of a highly valued and respected children’s unit.”
The specialist trust had previously been in talks with its neighbour about moving services to Imperial’s Hammersmith Hospital site, but minutes of the January board meeting show Royal Brompton concluded the location was “unsuitable” in October 2011. The minutes said: “Bob Bell said that [Imperial chief executive Mark Davies’] stance appeared to reflect a view that Royal Brompton is digestible within Imperial, a view which also appears to be held by others.”
Trust director of service development Nick Hunt said the meeting “confirmed two things: firstly that the process would not lead to tangible outcomes without big capital expenditure; and, secondly, Royal Brompton’s relocation plans made it the only trust in a position to provide capital”.