An NHS watchdog asked Sir Bob Kerslake to resign over a consistent failure to hit spending targets two days before he quit in protest at ‘unrealistic’ rules, it was claimed today.
Sky News said NHS Improvement boss Dido Harding asked the former civil service chief to consider his position in charge of King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust on Friday.
NHS Improvement declined to comment on whether Lord Kerslake was asked to resign but said in a statement ‘King’s financial performance is unacceptable and continues to deteriorate’.
It placed the hospital trust into special measures today after a ‘very serious’ deterioration in its finances.
The King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust in London run the biggest deficit in the health service and is the worst at hitting financial targets.
Late last night, crossbench peer Lord Kerslake announced his resignation blaming ‘unrealistic’ expectations from the Government and the regulator.
And in a piece for today’s Guardian, he called for a ‘fundamental rethink’ of how the NHS is funded and organised.
Lord Kerslake has resigned as boss of London’s King’s College Hospital today and in a statement blamed budget cuts to the health service
NHS Improvement boss Dido Harding asked the former civil service chief to consider his position on Friday, it was claimed today
In his resignation statement, Lord Kerslake said: ‘I do not do this lightly as I love King’s but believe the Government and regulator are unrealistic about the scale of the challenge facing the NHS and the Trust.
‘I want to pay tribute to the staff and their excellent patient care.’
Lord Kerslake paid tribute to the ‘world-class’ care given at the hospital, especially after the Westminster and London Bridge terror attacks, in a self-penned Guardian article.
‘King’s, like many other hospitals, is fighting against the inexorable pressures of rising demand, increasing costs of drugs and other medical supplies, and the tightest spending figures in recent times,’ he wrote.
He added: ‘There are undoubtedly things that I and the trust could have done better, there always are, but fundamentally our problems lie in the way that the NHS is funded and organised.
‘We desperately need a fundamental rethink.
‘Until then we are simply ‘kicking the can down the road’.’
The hospital described Lord Kerslake as a ‘passionate advocate and champion’ of the trust.
The King’s College Hospital (file image) NHS Foundation Trust in London run the biggest deficit in the health service and is the worst at hitting financial targets
‘With a heartfelt commitment to staff and patients, he has led King’s through a challenging period which has also seen some notable successes, our response to three major incidents in London, the launch of the helipad and delivering some of the highest patient outcomes of any Trust in the UK,’ a statement added.
‘We would like to express our deepest thanks to Lord Kerslake for his hard work and dedication not only to this trust but to the core values of the NHS, putting patients first.’
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: ‘This is embarrassing for the Government and is evidence from a heavily respected figure on the frontline that the Budget utterly failed to deliver for the NHS and that seven years of underfunding is impacting on patients in unacceptable ways.’
Lord Kerslake’s resignation comes as England’s NHS trusts are forecast for a total annual deficit of £623million for the 2017/18 financial year (PA Graphics)
A Department of Health spokesman said:’We know that King’s NHS Foundation Trust faces huge financial challenges, and we will support them to tackle these issues and continue to deliver high quality care for patients under a new Chairman.
‘We would like to thank Sir Bob Kerslake for his service.’
NHS Improvement declined to comment on claims Lord Kerslake had been asked to resign.
A spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘King’s financial performance is unacceptable and continues to deteriorate.
‘We are considering a range of actions, including entry to our Financial Special Measures regime, which means King’s will be subject to greater scrutiny and extra support from NHS Improvement.
‘We respect Lord Kerslake’s decision to step down and will replace him with a highly experienced new Chair to take charge of the Trust’s position.’