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Councillors ‘left in the dark’ over Royal Free takeover of Barnet and Chase Farm hospitals

12:05 04 March 2014

Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee Cllr John Bryant was grilling Royal Free directors last week

Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee Cllr John Bryant was grilling Royal Free directors last week

Archant

Councillors scrutinising the proposed takeover of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust by the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust say they have been left in the dark over the potential risk to patient care.

Camden health scrutiny committee heard from directors at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead last week as they outlined their case for the proposed acquisition of the two hospitals.

Barnet and Chase Farm revealed in 2012 that it would be unable to meet the deadline set by the government to become an independently-run foundation trust, with the Royal Free chosen as the preferred Trust to take it over.

But with only vague outlines of “efficiency savings” provided by hospital chiefs from the Royal Free, concerns remained over what risk the takeover posed to patient care.

Cllr John Bryant, chairman of the health scrutiny committee, told representatives of the hospital: “My worry in all of this is that we’ve had very few numbers.

“The cynics [...] believe that you just want to take over the Barnet and Chase Farm because they’ve got a lot of land which is unused which you can sell.

“We heard there was some transitional funding coming in that was going to be ‘nine figures’.

“But we’ve had no figures or even guestimates about what percentage we might make in terms of savings.”

Representatives of the Royal Free assured the committee that they would “take back” these concerns to financial planners.

Health regulator Monitor is expected to report on the risks of the proposals at the end of May with July 1 set for the date of acquisition.

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