THE takeover of Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust by the Royal Free is on track, according to a report heard by health chiefs last week.

As a result of a change in the law that dictates all hospital trusts need to be financially strong enough to be ready for foundation status by 2014 – and following a financial review in July 2012 that found the Barnet and Chase Farm trust would never achieve that level of financial stability alone – a bidder was sought who could take on the task.

The Royal Free, in Pond Lane, Hampstead, was the only trust to express an interest and its takeover bid looks set to go ahead.

And in a meeting of the health and well-being board at Enfield Civic Centre, in Silver Street, last week, Enfield Council’s cabinet member for health and adult social care Don McGowan sought reassurance from health bosses that the Royal Free’s move into the Basildon Hospital trust would not have an impact on the takeover bid.

Voicing concern that the Royal Free might be diverting resources away from the merger, Mr McGowan asked Liz Wise, chief officer of the Enfield Clinical Commissioning Group: “Royal Free are also planning to take over at Basildon. Will their involvement there affect this?”

Ms Wise explained that the takeover and the “buddy up” with Basildon were two very different things.

“There are rumours that the Royal Free have been asked to buddy Basildon – that is categorically not a takeover,” she said
She added that Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt had launched a system by which failing trusts were paired with successful ones in order to learn from the successes.

She stressed to Mr McGowan that the Royal Free’s mentoring of Basildon would not divert attention from the planned takeover.

Part of the report delivered by Ms Wise revealed that both the Barnet and Chase Farm and Royal Free trusts believe that additional funding would be needed in the short term as the 2013/14 budget for Barnet and Chase Farm shows a planned deficit of £16.4million.

She confirmed that the Royal Free would be seeking transitional funding from NHS England to help cover the costs of the takeover.

 

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