Ravenscourt Park Hospital is forced to close
NHS Trust faces £5 million a year maintenance bill for empty building
After months of speculation it has been confirmed that Ravenscourt Park Hospital will close. Once hailed as the future of future of elective surgery, the flagship hospital leased to the NHS in 2002 in a drive to cut waiting times has been forced to close because of a lack of patients.
Services are to be transferred to Charing Cross Hospital, St Mary’s, Paddington, and Central and West Middlesex hospitals along with most of the 200 staff.
Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, which has an accumulated deficit of £20 million, most of it because of Ravenscourt Park, said the decision to move services was made to save public money.
The Trust said demand had dried up because other hospitals have improved their own services to patients. The hospital needed to treat 12,000 patients a year to break even, but has been treating on average less than 5,000 and operating at a loss of £12m which could not be justified even though the hospital helped cut waiting times by up to two thirds.
Other hospitals in the area were asked to send patients To Ravenscourt Park to try to balance the books however because of the Government's "Payment by Results" scheme - which means hospitals are paid by the number of patients they treat - there was little incentive for other hospitals to help out even though their patients could have be treated sooner.
The trust will close the unit after a "detailed financial and predicted patient analysis", but the lease signed in 2002 means that it must continue to spend up to £5 million a year on maintenance, security and rent until the lease runs out in 2017. A spokesman said that discussions were continuing to find a new use for the listed building.
The Trust's Patient and Public Involvement Forum has refused to support the closure. In a letter to Derek Smith, the trust’s chief executive, the forum states that Ravenscourt Park provided “an absolutely outstanding patient experience”. The letter goes onto to says that the hospital has a clean, pleasant and tranquil environment, low levels of post-operative infection, is totally MRSA-free, good public transport access, dedicated theatre space and no cancellations.
The forum is currently examining whether proper consultation was carried out, as stipulated by the 2001 Health and Social Care Act. If not, the trust could be forced to backtrack.
September 4, 2006