Responding to the Secretary of State's announcement on the future of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, Chris Ham, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said:
'South London Healthcare NHS Trust has longstanding and serious financial problems so no change is not an option. But the decision not to accept in full the Trust Special Administrator's recommendation in relation to Lewisham A&E and the strength of local feeling about this issue show how difficult these judgements are.
'The failure regime should be used as a last resort and must not become a back-door route for reconfiguring hospital services. With a number of other trusts also facing serious financial challenges, it is vital that, wherever possible, these problems are resolved before it becomes necessary to invoke the failure process - this will require stronger political leadership than we have seen in the past.
'When it does become clear that a hospital has reached crisis point, decisions about its future should be made as quickly as possible. However, we are concerned that the current timetable for the failure process is not long enough to properly consult local people and meet the four tests laid down by the government for significant service change.'