Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Urgent question: South London Healthcare Trust

A Labour MP has urged that a report which demands a debt-ridden NHS trust is broken up must not be used to justify closing essential hospital services.

The South London Healthcare NHS Trust was put into administration in July 2012 and auditors have recommended it should be dissolved, and services broken up.

Dame Joan Ruddock, Lewisham Deptford MP, said the administrator's report was being used to force through a "major reconfiguration of services via the back door".

She said "virtually all" people and health professionals in the area opposed the plans, as she raised an urgent question on the subject on 8 January 2013.

The MP asked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt: "Do you believe that a reconfiguration of services in south east London is necessary? If it is, then you need to propose one with the relevant consideration for patient safety and healthcare standards."

Mr Hunt said he understood the concerns but needed more time to consider his response to the report.

"The challenges facing South London NHS Trust are complex and long-standing and to fail to address them is to penalise other parts of the NHS from whom resources must be taken to finance the biggest deficit anywhere in the NHS," he added.

South London Healthcare Trust is the first NHS trust to be put into administration, with debts predicted to reach £240 million by 2014.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said it had long been accepted that "difficult decisions are needed to secure the sustainability of health services in south east London".

But he argued the review "takes the NHS into new territory".


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