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Kate Hoey "furious" about plans to merge local hospitals

Vauxhall Labour MP Kate Hoey has launched a blistering attack on plans to create the biggest NHS trust in England by merging Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals with King's College Hospital and the South London and Maudsley mental health trust.

Kate Hoey

Speaking in a Commons debate on transparency in the NHS on Thursday afternoon, Ms Hoey said: "What has been called the King's Health Partners has sought to bring together the research work at King's College medical school with others, and the body is now growing to be almost an entity in itself, making decisions, sending out publicity and getting further and further away from the foundation trust."

She added: "One thing the King's Health Partners are doing in the name of foundation trusts is steamrolling ahead to bring about a merger of Guy's and St Thomas' hospitals, which is a huge trust, King's College Hospital, which is another huge trust, and the South London and Maudsley trust. It is believed that the merger will somehow lead to a 'world-class' – I do not know how many times members have heard the term – hospital.

"I am furious and angry – as are, I think, all five of the MPs representing the area – at how this merger has been handled.

"The lack of openness has been appalling and there has been no public board meetings or disclosure of information about the proposed changes. The proposals have been either badly put forward or not put forward at all.

"The board at Guy's and St Thomas' has an occasional surreal meeting as a showcase for public involvement, but it never discusses the real issues. It opens meetings for the public only when it suits the board."

Ms Hoey said she had recently received a letter from their chairman of Guy's and St Thomas', Sir Hugh Taylor, who "wrote to say that the project is forging ahead with a full business case".

"William McKee, who brought together trusts in Northern Ireland, has been appointed and we are told that he is going to spend at least 5 million to bring about the business case to show why this will be such a wonderful idea," said the MP.

"Simon Hughes and I have written back asking who is actively responsible, how the money from the different bodies is being allocated, what the precise budget will be and how it will be spent by whom. The whole accountability thing is there in a nutshell. Who is actually accountable?

"Does the Secretary of State have any say whatsoever? No. Apparently he is only interested if the move will clearly not be good for patients in clinical terms.

"I know that the establishment of such a large trust will be totally against the interests of people. Trusts cannot operate on such a large scale. One chief nurse cannot be responsible for all those hospitals."

Health think tank The King's Fund recently carried out a review of the merger proposals. It warned that if the merger does not proceed then the status quo may be unsustainable as the pressures on the NHS increase. The report also noted that the anticipated benefits of the merger needed to be better explained in order for local stakeholders to feel confident that they would be achieved.

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