It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Hollobone, albeit in a different role. I begin by paying tribute to Helen Hayes on securing the debate and on the powerful case she set out on behalf of her constituents. I recognise the importance of King’s not just to her family but to the community she serves, to other hon. Members present, and more widely.
In her remarks, the hon. Lady drew out three specific points, suggesting that the Government have responded to this situation as if it had arisen suddenly, that it is reflective of other hospitals and that the roots go back to the Princess Royal decision in 2013. I will seek to address each of those in the course of my remarks, but at the heart of this matter is the concern that the board and King’s have lost or eroded the confidence of the regulator by the manner in which the deficit target has significantly deteriorated, and the concern that the cost improvements are an outlier when pitched against comparable trusts. That is really the crux of the issue.
My hon. Friend Dr Poulter brought the value of experience both as a clinician and as a former Health Minister. I was very taken by his remarks. Specifically, on the point he raised about the PFI debt, it is helpful to remind colleagues that support was agreed by the Department at the time, in 2013-14, for the additional costs of that PFI financing. That was taken into consideration by the board, which agreed to it at that point. It is not the case that the PFI has been a material contributor to the current deficit.