Croydon Council calls for answers over £27m NHS blackhole

Coun Mike Fisher

Coun Mike Fisher

First published in Local news Croydon Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Deputy editor

A committee to call to account health services across south west London could be established after financial mismanagement let to a £27m overspend.

The move follows the discovery of a £22m black hole in Croydon Primary Care Trust’s finances, despite it reporting a £5m surplus.

Croydon Council, supported by Wandsworth and Richmond, is calling for more answers after a damning independent report published last week blamed a series of oversights and omissions by the PCT’s finance team.

Leaders of the councils want to establish a Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee covering the whole South London Partnership area, Croydon, Wandsworth, Merton, Kingston and Sutton..

Leader of Croydon Council Mike Fisher said: “The loss of control of finances at Croydon PCT was completely unacceptable and we need to make sure there is proper public accountability for what has happened.

“The independent report has established many of the facts but leaves open the question of public accountability for the decisions and actions that were taken or not taken, which allowed this situation to arise.

“Therefore, we think it only right in the circumstances for the boroughs within the South London Partnership to establish a joint scrutiny and overview committee specifically to try to understand how this happened and where responsibility lies.

“The Committee would also review the good progress that would appear to have been made since in terms of financial recovery, to assure ourselves that this is real and sustainable.

"It makes sense to undertake this review at a South West London level because all six PCT populations have been affected by what has happened, not least in terms of re-allocation of financial resources to deal with the mess during 2011/12."

Coun Lord True, Leader of Richmond Council, said: “The NHS report describes a process that can only be described as a shambles yet has nothing to say about accountability.

“Croydon PCT was spending money it did not have – and some of it came from financially competent PCTs like Richmond, taking funds which were originally provided for the benefit of our communities.

“What we see is a complete failure of financial management, woefully weak corporate governance and apparently ineffective external audit. I hope a joint scrutiny by the SW London boroughs will expose the proper accountability issues; it is only in this way that lessons can be truly learnt and the public have any confidence that their money is in safe hands.”

NHS South West London said lessons have been learned to prevent such an overspend reoccurring

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