Turnaround Teams Brought In To Cure Local NHS Debt

City experts drafted to aid financially challenged hospitals

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Patient and Public Involvement Forum

Turnaround teams have been brought in to help cure debt problems at Hammersmith Hospitals and West Middlesex according to a report published this week.

Almost £2million has been spent on drafting in city experts to help the beleaguered hospitals balance their books. Both Hammersmith and West Middlesex Hospitals have teams from city giants PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Hammersmith Hospital’s team is costing them £830,000, but are forecasting savings of £30m bringing their end of year deficit to zero. West Mid’s team is costing a more modest £500,000 but then they are only expecting to save £6m bringing their end of year deficit to £1.4m.

The move has been critised by some experts who have questioned the value of such teams believing that NHS managers should be able to solve their own problems. It is also true that some organisations with deficits have managed to pull themselves out of debt without outside help and have improved patient care at the same time.

Dr John Lister, director of pressure group London Health Emergency, told the Evening Standard “The standard thing is: come in, close something down and lay off some staff. All the answers are ones that any manager pursuing traditional policies would have provided.

“It seems strange that we should pay hefty fees to NHS managers when the first thing they do on hitting a problem is bring in someone more expensive to do the same job as they should be doing. Managers who get trusts into such dire financial situations should be obliged to get them out of them. Otherwise, why are we giving them so much money?”

February 9, 2007