North Central London STP: Plan to save Camden, Barnet and Haringey NHS finances ‘not yet found’

The Whittington, which is one hospital affected by the plan. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA

The Whittington, which is one hospital affected by the plan. Picture: Steve Parsons/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

The man overseeing a radical plan to ward off a funding crisis in Camden, Haringey and Barnet’s health services has said a solution has “not yet been found” – but the Whittington’s properties could be part of discussions.

David Stout, director of the North Central London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), told councillors from the three boroughs – along with others from Enfield and Islington – that he did not know how to ward off an impending £876million health budget deficit.

The five boroughs have been forced to come together to devise a plan to dramatically improve health and social care finances, with one potential move being the “consolidating” of departments across the Whittington, Royal Free and University College hospitals.

Questioned by the cross-council Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee in Hendon Town Hall on Friday, Mr Stout said: “If we do nothing, the gap in our finances would grow to something like £900m in five years.

“But we’re not going to do nothing – we wouldn’t be allowed to do nothing.”

He added: “A solution to that scale of financial gap has not yet been found – we still need to do more work on that.”

Mr Stout also said investment was essential to the future of the health service but stressed “costs could be reduced” and efficiencies implemented.

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David Sloman, chief executive of the Royal Free and footprint lead of the STP, said the future of the Whittington’s 38 sites would be included in financial discussions.

“When I used to work there, about 50 per cent of the estate of the hospital was good,” the former Whittington chief executive said.

“The other half was residual Victoriana.”

But deputy chief executive of the Whittington Siobhan Harrington said a business case about the sites would form part of the STP.

The chair of Islington CCG, meanwhile, said she was concerned about the next few months of healthcare in north London as well as the next five years.

“We are about to go into winter and we are holding our heads above water,” Jo Sauvage said.

“What we need to do is confront debt, not shunt it away.”

Ms Harrington was later asked about the status of her hospital’s Lower Urinary Tract Services (LUT) clinic in Hornsey, which closed last year.

“As soon we are in a position to reopen, we will,” she said, adding that should happen “within a year – I hope sooner”.

Patient safety was an issue being considered, she said, but added that discussions between the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the clinic were taking place.