Council health bosses have challenged the board behind a contentious hospital merger to prove it would be financially viable.
A report into the acquisition by Chelsea and Westminster Hospital of the PFI-funded West Middlesex University Hospital was presented to H&F Council’s Health, Adult Social Care and Social Inclusion Policy and Accountability Committee when it met at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday (July 7) evening.
However, rather than allay the concerns of the committee about the financial viability of the merger, which councillors raised at a previous meeting with the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust (CWHFT), the report detailed only the merger process and not the monies involved.
“This merger was financially-motivated, yet for a second time the Trust has failed to provide us the business case to justify their decision. How can we give these proposals proper scrutiny on the behalf of the thousands of people who stand to be affected by any possible changes to services, if we don’t have the figures to do so?” said Cllr Vivienne Lukey, H&F Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, following the meeting.
“Given Shaping a Healthier Future has ignored public opinion to date, people are understandably sceptical about how this merger could affect them, none of which is helped by the clandestine nature in which it was conceived. So we still have very real concerns over the implications for local services, particularly about the potential effects on the A&E and paediatric units.”
Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust (CWHFT), Libby McManus, told the committee it was hoped the merger would be given final sign-off by the Secretary of State in August and be in place from 1 September this year. She also explained that board members had signed confidentiality clauses preventing them from disclosing the financial details of the merger.
She said: “The decision we have taken I think represents the best for both organisations over time. By coming together as a unified, single organisation there will be more scope to innovate. We both [hospitals] stand the risk of potentially losing services if we don’t do this.”
At the end of the discussion members were invited to meet separately with the CWHFT’s Chief Financial Officer to review the business case.