Croydon’s medical services were dealt a double whammy this morning, when it was announced that the two bodies which run the area’s hospitals and GP practices, Croydon Health Services NHS Trust and Croydon Clinical Commissioning Group, had both been placed in financial special measures.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust has overall responsibility for both Mayday and Purley hospitals. Croydon CCG operates 58 local GP practices.
The Croydon medical organisations are among five hospital trusts placed in special measures and nine CCGs placed on the financial naughty step today by NHS England. According to a report by the Health Service Journal, Croydon CCG’s financial predicament is based just on the first quarter’s figure for 2016-2017.
Croydon’s NHS providers, particularly Mayday Hospital, have had a constant struggle to balance their books for several years, a result, according to professionals working within the south London health service, of steeply rising demand for services set against budgets which barely reflect the area’s changing demographics.
Trusts placed in financial special measures may be stripped of powers over key spending and leadership decisions, the HSJ reports.
Once a trust is in special measures, a body called NHS Improvement will move in within a month “to agree a recovery plan”. Among their options is “removal of autonomy over key spending decisions or changes in leadership” – in other words, sacking the management of the trust or CCG.
In a document from the Department of Health published today, it stated that it “does not intend to accept business as usual loan applications from these providers”.
And as part of what health secretary Jeremy Hunt [sic] calls “Ofsted-style” ratings (because we all know how those have “helped” to “improve” schools), 26 CCGs across the country have been rated as “inadequate”. A further 91 have been rated as requires improvement.
The HSJ has reported that the CCG ratings had to be re-done, after NHS officials decided that the ratings system was flawed, when the original scores showed 75 per cent of the country’s CCGs rated as inadequate and not one was judged to be “outstanding”.
And at the same time, 63 NHS trusts are to be penalised financially for “over-recruiting” staff. NHS Improvement said this was necessary to “dial back” pay bill growth in the NHS. The move will lead to cuts to nurses and will impact on patient care, according to a trust manager speaking to HSJ.
Mike Smith, of the Patients’ Association, told the BBC’s lunchtime news that the Department of Health announcements today are “disastrous”.
“Our NHS is under-funded. We spend around one-fifth less on our health service than they do in France and Germany,” Smith said. “It won’t be long before they use this situation for greater privatisation of the NHS.”
John Goulston, the chief executive of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust said: “Today’s announcement relates to our long-standing financial challenges which we need to address. By working together with our commissioners, NHS Improvement and NHS England, we will make the most of this opportunity to put the Trust in a sustainable financial position for the future. “
“Balancing our books remains our greatest challenge, as we have continued to spend more than we earn to deliver the services required for London’s largest borough.
“We welcome this extra support to help us make every penny spent count, to increase our efficiency whilst maintaining our care. Funding in Croydon is particularly tight, and both the Trust and Croydon CCG are among a number of NHS organisations where additional support has been identified as needed.
“We want to reassure our local community that we will continue with our ongoing improvements in care, which has seen a step-change in our A&E performance and waiting times for cancer and planned care.”
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