London hospitals in 'shocking state' says MPs' report

London's health chiefs have been warned some patients will "die earlier" because of the deteriorating standard of some hospitals in the capital.

The Public Accounts Committee report said some London hospitals were in a "particularly shocking state".

The Whitehall spending watchdog added many NHS trusts in outer London were facing money and management problems and could be forced to close or merge.

NHS London said funding would be made available to improve patient care.

Chair Margaret Hodge MP said the committee was alarmed that the healthcare system in London had been "allowed to deteriorate despite its problems having been known about for many years".

She said at least half of the acute trusts were not viable.

The Labour MP for Barking said: "The hospitals which will probably survive are in the centre of London and the people who live on the outskirts will have to get a bus and that takes time, it costs money.

"Many people will choose not to do so and they will simply get ill and die earlier and that is unacceptable."

'Remain to be convinced'

The government had wanted all NHS trusts to achieve foundation trust status by 2014, but this deadline has now been scrapped.

Foundation status gives trusts more freedom on how much they spend and borrow, but requires them to get their finances in order.

Of the 20 hospital trusts across England that have declared they will never make foundation status, half are in London.

Mrs Hodge said despite being assured by the Department of Health there were no plans to close hospitals, some trusts were in such a poor financial state that it was difficult to see why other organisations would want to take them on.

Earlier this week, a report by the King's Fund warned that NHS London needed "urgent change".

Mrs Hodge added: "We remain to be convinced that combining struggling hospitals into larger trusts - as with south London - will somehow produce viable organisations offering good quality, accessible healthcare."

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he was prepared to tackle the issue and that independent assessments would be carried out on trusts to identify what was going wrong.

NHS London said it knew some hospitals might need to change or merge with others to meet foundation trust standards.

A spokesperson said while "patient care was good in some places, it was not good enough everywhere".

"We can improve care by bringing services, such as minor surgery, X-rays and blood tests, out of hospitals and closer to where people live," said the spokesperson, adding that funding would be made available to achieve this.

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