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Probe into hospital's £87million debt

The Princess Royal University Hospital at Orpington
The Princess Royal University Hospital at Orpington

HEALTH chiefs have drafted in an investigator to probe a hospital’s financial troubles.

Among those who will be quizzed by independent reviewer Michael Taylor is the former chief executive of Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust John Watkinson.

Mr Watkinson left the trust, which runs the flagship Princess Royal University Hospital, to take up a post in Cornwall about a year ago.

The NHS is keen to sort out the new hospital’s finances because it is one of two sites earmarked to become a major specialist hospital for patients in outer south east London.

The trust is saddled with a debt of £87 million and lost almost £16 million little more than a year before Mr Watkinson left.

At the time bosses blamed a sharp rise in the number of people attending A&E unnecessarily for much of their financial woes.

The trust could lose up to £9 million again this year because of its difficulties.

The man tasked with sorting out the trust’s troubles, NHS London’s turnaround director Antony Sumara, said it was important to get to the bottom of what went wrong.

He said: “The public and the NHS are rightly asking how the trust managed to get into this difficult financial position and as accountable officers we need to try to understand what happened, and put processes in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. The question must be asked: how did the trust manage to get into this position?”

Mr Taylor will take at least two months to interview key players at the trust over the past few years.

He will assess how effective their risk management was and how rigorously finances were managed.

He will also look at specific capital projects such as the redevelopment of the former Beckenham Hospital into an urgent care centre, called the Beckenham Beacon.

That deal was reached in co-operation with Bromley Primary Care Trust and Bromley council.

Mr Taylor is due to report his findings to the February board meeting of Bromley Hospitals NHS Trust.

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