Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barts Crisis Threatens New Heart Centre, Say Doctors

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Barts Crisis Threatens New Heart Centre, Say Doctors

Article excerpt

Byline: Ross Lydall Health Editor

A PLAN to create a world-class centre to tackle heart disease is at risk from the financial crisis facing Barts hospitals, doctors warned today.

They fear the "toxic" impact of private finance initiative-related debts at Britain's biggest NHS trust could blight proposals to merge the services provided by three hospitals into a [pounds sterling]200 million cardiovascular centre at St Bartholomew's in Smithfield.

The plan would merge the Heart Hospital, the London Chest Hospital and the heart unit at St Bartholomew's.

The aim is to deliver a dramatic improvement in tackling heart disease, akin to the 400 lives saved since specialised stroke units were set up in the capital three years ago. Concerns about the merger were first raised by several consultants at UCLH's Heart Hospital, who said they feared they were being "sacrificed" and forced to transfer to Barts Health to prop up a "high risk" trust.

Today, UCLH bosses admitted their "anxiety" over Barts' finances but insisted the clinical case for creating a specialist unit for north and east London, Hertfordshire and Essex was beyond question and urged NHS England to approve the merger. "I see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really build something," said Dr Edward Rowland, clinical director of the Heart Hospital. "In my heart, I don't feel patients in London have had real world-class care."

Professor David Fish, managing director of UCL Partners, said: "Londoners are fortunate that they now receive the best care for stroke in the world. We would need to understand who wouldn't want it to be the same for people with cardiac disease."

In March 2012, footballer Fabrice Muamba's life was saved at the London Chest Hospital after the 25-year-old Bolton Wanderers player suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch at Tottenham's White Hart Lane ground. Barts is axing up to 1,000 posts across its six London hospitals in the hope of plugging a [pounds sterling]50 million black hole -- while trying to cope with the soaring repayments for its [pounds sterling]1. …

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