• Trust report reveals King’s Health Partners has been “unable to secure regulator support” for first stage of a haematology institute
  • Support withheld because King’s College Hospital Foundation Trust is in financial special measures, says partner trust
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT report references “difficult relationship” with King’s on haematology services

A London teaching hospital has found itself unable to “secure regulator support” for a new research institute because of its financial problems, a board report reveals.

King’s Health Partners – an academic health science centre which brings together King’s College London, University of London, Guy’s and St Thomas’ FT and King’s College Hospital FT – was hoping to build a haematology centre at KCH’s main site.

A paper to the board of GSTT said the project had “been unable to secure regulator support for the strategic outline case because KCH remained in financial special measures”.

The trust was placed in financial special measures in December 2017 after its deficit in 2017-18 ballooned from a planned £38.8m to £70.6m, then £92.2m, before ending the year £129.6m in the red.

The King’s Health Partners Haematology Institute is expected to have a capital cost of £63m, the paper said, and be based on the King’s site at Denmark Hill, in south London.

KCL was expected to contribute £15m to cover the first phase of the build.

Minutes of GSTT’s quality and performance committee published last month said: “The trust had been managing a difficult relationship model with KCH [on haematology] which had not resolved a number of concerns. Whilst some issues had been addressed, others remained unresolved and the chief medical officer would be formally requesting a response to the concerns.

“A reciprocal set of concerns may be raised by KCH. The trust’s commitment to patient safety was unwavering but there was likely to be a further report needed; these issues could have an impact on commissioning – KCH was the provider – and on other activities to draw together haematology services across KHP.”

Asked what the issues were, the FTs said in a joint statement: “Optimising patient pathways across organisational boundaries can be challenging. GSTT’s chief medical officer and the medical director of KCH are working through some issues relating to haematology.

“The need for open dialogue and engagement was emphasised as this will ensure matters can be resolved promptly and we continue to work effectively together to offer the best possible care to our patients.”

A 2017 job advert for a programme director for the project said the institute would be of considerable scale – the haematology service at the two trusts sees around 20,000 patients a year.

The advert said: “The institute will deliver changes in pathways and some consolidation of clinical activity, and drive expansion in the academic, private patient and commercial activities within KHP haematology.”

A report released this week into the causes of the increased deficit at King’s showed that an increase in the number of haematology doctors was one of the factors.

Medical substantive pay increased £8.4m over two years in the clinical division that includes haematology, as the trusts hired 38 new doctors, 13 of them haematologists.

A KHP spokesman said no formal strategic outline case had been submitted to NHS Improvement for approval.