BY JAMES TWOMEY
England’s most debt-ridden hospital should have been rescued from its plight to give staff and patients some respite, says their MP.
King’s College Hospital (KCH) in Camberwell has £500million in debt but was not given a single penny when new Prime Minister Boris Johnson splashed £1.8billion on hospitals on August 5.
By contrast Croydon Hospital was given £12.7million to update its wards.
Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes branded the overall total “paltry” and said the hospital’s hard-pressed, caring and dedicated staff deserved better – and so did patients.
KCH has been in “special measures” – and told to improve its debt – since December 2017. But Mr Johnson promised to release £29.7million for other hospitals in London.
But he has not provided any further cash for healthcare in Lambeth and Southwark.
KCH has faced massive funding pressures since the Government’s 2010 decision to limit NHS annual budget rises to 1 percent a year, causing the hospital to record an annual deficit of more than £180million last year.
It now has a debt of more than £500million, the highest deficit and debt of any hospital
in the UK.
Ms Hayes said: “Since 2010, the Tory Government, with the support of the Lib-Dems has cut over £4billion from NHS investment budgets. This is money which would have been spent upgrading hospital buildings and equipment, increasing bed spaces and building a modern health service.
“The Government’s announcement ignores the urgent need for investment in KCH. The staff at KCH perform incredible work caring for patients and undertaking innovative
“But they are facing increasing difficulties due to the Government’s constant underfunding of the NHS.
“This funding, which isn’t new money, is a paltry amount which will do little to make up for the Tories’ years of neglect. Boris Johnson has targeted areas needed to win an election and delivered nothing for the rest of the country.
“Staff and patients at KCH deserve better than this. A Labour government would invest in local health services and provide funding to transform social care services and mental health services across the country.”
The Department for Health and Social Care would not provide a statement but said that 20 hospitals applied for funding upgrades and narrowly missed out with funding given on the strength of bids.
They were assessed on deliverability, patient benefit and demand management, service need and transformation, financial sustainability, return on investment and estates.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust was one of the trusts that did receive funding of £12.7 million to improve the hospital’s intensive treatment and high dependency units.
The funding will allow the trust to expand and refurbish the its current critical care wards including 24 new intensive care and high dependency beds.
Croydon Health Services NHS Trust chief executive Matthew Kershaw said: “The funding announcement gives us the opportunity to make some much-needed changes to our critical care services.
“Every day, our staff work incredibly hard, providing the best care possible to seriously ill patients.
But with a limited number of beds and a unit that hasn’t been refurbished since the mid-80’s, many Croydon residents needing critical care have ended up in a hospital too far away from home.
“By redeveloping our intensive treatment and high dependency units, we can ensure that our patients can receive the life-dependent care they need in their local hospital, and in an environment that provides the highest levels of care and dignity.”