Queen Alexandra Hospital’s finances ‘are no threat’ to its survival

Queen Alexandra Hospital
Queen Alexandra Hospital

Health boss says phrases like ‘a bit OCD’ trivialise condition

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THERE is no risk of a Portsmouth hospital trust being downgraded or closed.

That’s the message from the Trust Development Authority (TDA), which oversees hospital trusts in the country.

The government passed Clause 119 of the Care Bill on Tuesday.

It gives health secretary Jeremy Hunt greater powers to downgrade or close hospital services.

This includes trusts with financial problems, or looking at reorganising health services in a region if one trust is failing.

Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust (PHT), which runs Queen Alexandra Hospital, was on a Labour party list of potentially being at risk.

A party spokesman said: ‘We listed PHT because it’s forecasting ending the year in deficit and the TDA has registered a material issue concern – the second most serious in its escalation process.’

But the TDA said that PHT was not at risk, despite its financial rating.

A TDA spokesman said: ‘We are not considering any trust in the country, including PHT.

‘We give trusts scores from one to five, with one being the best. PHT has a score of four, but it only gives the trust and the public an idea of what’s happening, and what needs to be improved.

‘We are not considering any organisation for the trust special administrator.’

The clause was brought in following Mr Hunt’s attempts to close maternity and emergency services at Lewisham hospital in south London last year.

It came after the neighbouring South London Healthcare Trust went into administration, but Mr Hunt was told he could not close Lewisham by the court of appeal as part of a shake-up to reorganise the area.

Because of this rejection, Clause 119 was drawn up.

It means special administrators who take over any failing NHS trusts in England can push through changes with only a 40-day consultation period.

The opposition wanted a longer consultation period, and for local commissioners to have powers to veto a decision, but this was rejected.

Lack of consultation is also a worry for patient support group Healthwatch Hampshire. Manager Steve Taylor said: ‘Although there is a requirement to involve the public in decisions that are made – a concern we have is that this will be overlooked as listening to what the public think is vital to any change of services.’