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11.12.17

Lord Kerslake quits as trust chair in protest against NHS underfunding

Lord Kerslake has resigned as the chairman of a major hospital trust in London in protest against historic underfunding in the NHS.

The respected figure resigned from his post at King’s College Hospital NHS FT yesterday, saying that cuts to the NHS were the reason behind his decision.

In a statement on Twitter yesterday, Kerslake said that he did not take the decision lightly.

He said: “I love King's but I believe the government and regulator are unrealistic about the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the trust.” He also paid tribute the staff and their “excellent” patient care.

 


In response to the news, a spokesperson from the trust described Kerslake as a “passionate advocate and champion of the trust.”

“He has led King’s through a challenging period which has also seen some notable successes - our response to the three major incidents in London, the launch of the helipad and delivering some of the highest patient outcomes of any trust in the UK,” the spokesperson said.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said that Kerslake’s warnings about the underfunding of the NHS should be taken seriously.

“Those who dismiss concerns about underfunding and the recent inadequate budget do patients a huge disservice,” he warned.

And Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said that Kerslake’s decision is significant because “he has been at the heart of government,” referencing his time as head of the civil service.

He continued: “What we, our members and others have been saying is that this is not just the normal pitch for more money from a bunch of vested interests - everyone accepts that the government has enormously difficult decisions to make at a time of great uncertainty and great distraction. 

“But what is unarguable is that demand is growing beyond our capacity to meet it - and ironically the current constraints are slowing down our capacity to reform the way care is delivered.”

Dickson added that society needs to decide whether it will embrace reform and provide the resources to deliver it.

“We have no doubt that this will require us to devote a greater proportion of our GDP to health and care, but let us first gather objective evidence of what will be needed and commit to having a serious debate about what we are prepared to pay for. 

That will also require a new way of looking at investment in our health which needs to be seen as one of the pre-requisites of an effective and efficient modern economy - not a drain on wealth creation, but a necessary building block,” he concluded.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We know that King's NHS Foundation Trust faces huge financial challenges, and we will support them to tackle these issues and continue to deliver high quality care for patients under a new chairman. 

“We would like to thank Sir Bob Kerslake for his service.”

A spokesperson for NHS Improvement said that King’s financial performance is “unacceptable and continues to deteriorate.”

It added: “We are considering a range of actions, including entry to our Financial Special Measures regime, which means King's will be subject to greater scrutiny and extra support from NHS Improvement.

“We respect Lord Kerslake's decision to step down and he will be replaced with a highly experienced new chair to take charge of the trust's position.”

Top image: Steve Parsons PA Wire

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