The RCM's chief executive Cathy Warwick showed solidarity with the beleaguered South London Healthcare Trust (SLHT) trust by visiting two of their maternity units in Woolwich and Orpington yesterday.

Her visit coincided with Health Secretary Andrew Lansley's announcement that he has appointed a special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, to oversee the administration process.

Warwick, who was interviewed for BBC London News said the unit was excellent and praised the dedication of staff, whose efforts were recongnised recently when they won "Team of the Year" at this year's RCM's Annual Midwifery Awards.

Cathy also spoke of her visit to Midwives magazine, saying: "I always enjoy visiting South London Healthcare NHS Trust, but it will be especially enjoyable to catch up with the current holders of one of our most prestigious awards.

"In the last couple of years, SLHT has introduced some fantastic initiatives, won numerous accolades and in many ways have set an example to the rest of the country."

Chief midwife Donna Ockenden, said: "It is no secret that the trust is going through a time of both change and intense scrutiny, so Cathy's visit means a great deal to all of us.

"We are so grateful for her time and support. I especially hope it reassures women and their families of our commitment to maintaining a quality maternity service with the highest standards of care.

"To be given such visible encouragement and support from the RCM is most reassuring at this time."

The trust is alleged to be losing £1 million a week and the deficit is partly attributable to two PFI deals that are now costing £61 million a year in interest. The hospital's deficit last year - covered by money from elsewhere in the NHS budget - is allegedly equivalent to the salaries of 1,200 nurses or 200 hip replacements a week.

Administrator Kershaw currently works as the national director for provider delivery at the DH, but will start his new role next Monday [July 16th]. He has been tasked with examining the long-standing difficulties at the Trust to produce a report on October 29 this year.

He will then launch a 30-day consultation with staff, patients and the public on the draft report. A final report will be submitted to Mr Lansley on January 8 2013.


Posted by Penny Hosie