NHS trust boss of major hospital hands in fiery resignation notice

pharmafile | December 11, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Sales and Marketing NHS, biotech, drugs, pharma, pharmaceutical 

Bob Kerslake, now former chair of King’s College hospital, London, has handed in his resignation, citing the lack of long-term planning, including funding, for the NHS causing insurmountable financial challenges.

Kerslaw announced his departure in an open letter in The Guardian, where he makes the claim that “the government and its regulator, NHS Improvement, are simply not facing up to the enormous challenges that the NHS is currently facing”.

The decision comes not long after Philip Hammond promised the NHS an extra £2.8 billion over the course of the next three years – a figure that was met with an underwhelmed response by those within the NHS.

Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, had called for £4 billion per year to be injected into the NHS, in order for the service to continue providing services at current levels.

In an outspoken speech, given at NHS Providers’ annual conference, Stevens also referenced the £350 million per week pledge written on the side of the infamous Brexit “battle bus” and how this money should go directly to the NHS.

The comments were widely seen as a last-ditch effort to try to gain the NHS enough funding to manage the pressures it faces in the Autumn Budget. With Kerslake’s resignation, more focus will be placed again on the NHS funding situation.

Kerslake even highlighted the level of cost-saving the trust had managed, by delivering savings of £80 million for the last two years; however, due to the fact that the trust had not met its budget, the trust would likely be placed under ‘special measures’ – a move that prompted Kerslake’s resignation.

In his piece within The Guardian, he explains: “After two years of delivering or getting close to the deficit target agreed with our regulator NHS Improvement, King’s has moved significantly away from its planned figure for this year. We’re far from alone – almost every hospital in London is struggling – but the scale of the deficit and the change means that we will be put into financial special measures. The secretary of state and the regulator normally extract a price for this at the top and King’s will be no different. We could fight back, but this puts King’s future at even greater risk. The right thing for me to do therefore is to step down and to do so publicly.”

Pre-empting a public backlash from the government over his ability to perform the role he had resigned from, Kerslake quoted from a draft report of the independent Care Quality Commission that suggested that the “chair is held in very high regard by staff at all levels”.

Ben Hargreaves

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