King’s College Hospital

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:33 pm on 16th January 2018.

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Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care) 5:33 pm, 16th January 2018

Indeed, I am happy to give consideration to the point my hon. Friend makes, although if one looks at the deficit for this year, which I will come on to in my remarks, the bulk of the deficit is not from the Princess Royal but from the other sites, so it does not pertain to the 2013 decision. I will come on to that more fully as I develop the case.

I will also say to Ms Harman, who recognised that the staff at King’s want to deliver, that I agree with her on that point. It is not about apportioning blame to those members of staff. Indeed, the financial special measures are about giving additional assistance to King’s to address those points, rather than seeking to blame them. I think there is a shared desire from both sides of the House to get the right outcome for King’s. I am very happy to agree with her on that.

It is a fact that King’s is a challenged organisation. We are putting a lot of effort into supporting it. King’s is receiving substantial financial support from the Department. The trust has received more than £100 million of support to maintain frontline services, the second-highest level of support to any individual trust across England. Placing King’s in special measures for financial reasons is a regulatory action to bring about swift improvement and address the trust’s financial challenges. NHSI is working with the trust to undertake a rapid review and agree a financial recovery plan.

Under the financial special measures programme, the trust will receive extra help and oversight, with the appointment of a financial improvement director. The organisation will also be required to draw up and deliver a plan to improve its finances, which NHSI will closely monitor. That will include support from peer providers where appropriate. On top of those special measures, NHS Improvement has also appointed Ian Smith as a new and experienced interim chair for King’s, to take control of the organisation’s position. He was appointed, as I am sure the hon. Member for Dulwich and West Norwood is aware, on 21 December and took up that role with immediate effect.

It is a fact that some profound financial issues at the trust need to be addressed. The trust agreed a budget deficit of £38.8 million in May 2017, yet just five months after the board had agreed that deficit it submitted a re-forecast deficit of £70.6 million, and a further two months later, in December 2017, the trust informed NHS Improvement that its current mid-case projection had worsened again to around £92 million. So, an agreed board position of a deficit of £38.8 million had within seven months gone up to a deficit of £92 million. That is really at the heart of this. When measured, that level of deterioration is an outlier, which is why the chief financial officer and chief operating officer both resigned in November 2017, and the chair resigned, as hon. Members have pointed out, in December 2017.

When announcing the financial special measures, Ian Dalton, the chief executive of NHSI, noted of other hospitals that

“none has shown the sheer scale and pace of the deterioration at King’s. It is not acceptable for individual organisations to run up such significant deficits when the majority of the sector is working extremely hard to hit their financial plans, and in many cases have made real progress.”