5:00pm Wednesday 4th July 2012
By David Hardiman
A hospital trust facing major reorganisation wants to merge with other hospitals as it struggles to balance the books.
Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust said it was “impossible to produce a credible long-term financial plan” alone to meet the minimum standards set by independent regulator Monitor, which assesses trusts applying for Foundation status.
Foundation trusts have much more independence from Government and more control over their financial affairs, and the Department of Health has insisted all hospital trusts must achieve the status by 2014.
Barnet and Chase Farm rejected a merger with North Middlesex Hospital in April, but the Enfield Independent understands managers are now considering University College London, or the Royal Free London, as partners in a bid to bring accounts up to standard.
However, Councillor Alev Cazimoglu, chairman of Enfield Council’s health and wellbeing scrutiny panel, questioned what had changed for the trust to seek a partner after April’s £100,000 feasibility study on a merger found it was not the right time.
She said: “I don’t know what’s changed in three months, but continuing as it is is not financially viable and it's got to become a foundation trust by 2014.
“They seem to making decisions without any clear strategy.
“It’s Government imposing on the trust that it's got to do this, which means our already chaotic local health service is being thrown into even more uncertainty and chaos.”
Both maternity and accident and emergency services currently provided at Chase Farm Hospital, in Enfield, will be shared between North Middlesex and Barnet Hospitals when the site, in The Ridgeway, is downgraded in September next year.
The closure is part of the Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Clinical Strategy, which is the plan approved by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, to shake up hospital services with the aim to make improvements and tackle inequality of health care.
However, the proposals, which have been around for several years, have faced fierce opposition from health campaigners, Enfield Council and many Enfield GPs.
A Barnet and Chase Farm Trust statement said the merger plan, which is due to go before the trust’s board next Friday, “will not hinder the implementation of the BEH Clinical Strategy, which will be completed by autumn of 2013”.
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