Local Hospital faces closure threat
'Too expensive' Ravenscourt Park may be mothballed
A lack of patients for Ravenscourt Park Hospital has raised the possibility of closure only three years after the facility opened. According to a report in the Times, senior staff are describing the situation at the hospital as bleak.
Ravenscourt Park cost £14 million to set up and has already had to close one ward. Only 40 of its 116 beds are in use at present. The Times quotes minutes from a recent meeting of the clinical board which show a deficit of £12 million for this financial year. Accumulated losses are projected to reach £37 million by 2010 if the unit continues to operate on the same basis.
The hospital was planned to be part of the solution to NHS waiting lists. It operates as a specialist centre for hip and knee operations in West London. Such centres were originally seen by the Government as a cost-effective way to give patients more choice. As recently as last month, Ministers were hailing Ravenscourt Park and the 28 other similar centres as part of the future of the NHS. Another 17 treatment centres are due to open.
However, according to the Times, because of rising costs and a lack of patients, a proposal was put to a meeting of the Ravenscourt Park board last year suggesting mothballing the hospital at an annual cost of £4 million. The situation has reportedly deteriorated since the proposal was made. The centre is unable to perform treatments for other trusts at competitive rates and five out of seven local trusts refuse to use it. It is estimated that the hospital must double its current 6,000 operations a year to remain viable.
Gary Malcolm, the prospective Liberal Democrat candidate for the Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush constituency said, "Ravenscourt Park Hospital was only set up three years ago as a one of the government's misguided schemes. It seemed soomed to failure from the start with it not being managed very well. We, the tax payer, will have to foot the bill for this blunder. Liberal Democrats think that Labour should get down to basics and ensure that existing hospitals are well staffed, kept clean and managed properly."
Ravenscourt Park Hospital is part of the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust which is headed by Derek Smith. According to NHS Accounts published recently he is the highest paid Chief Executive of any hospital trust in the UK. He was formerly Head of London Underground but resigned when Ken Livingstone was publicly critical of the management of the tube.
February 16, 2005