The Royal Brompton and Harefield is one of the more secretive Foundation Trusts, publishing only minutes of its board meetings once a quarter, and no Board papers.
It is now proposing to push through a “merger” of the Royal Brompton in Chelsea with Guy’s and St Thomas’s NHS Foundation Trust, which could see all of its most specialist services moved south of the river.
The Trust argues that the merger, does not require any public consultation since it is a “corporate transaction”. This argument has been rejected by Tory and Labour councillors in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, who joined forces to pass three critical motions on the plan at an extraordinary council meeting on September 23.
The first motion underlined the potential market value of the Brompton’s prime Chelsea sites as a key factor driving the plan: “The Brompton site, located in one of the highest land value areas of London, is believed to worth more than £1billion if it is sold to property developers.”
But by the time the land assets are sold off, the Brompton will no longer exist as a Trust, with its services 3 miles away and across the river. This is because the ‘merger’ is in fact a takeover (“acquisition”) of the RBHHFT by Guy’s & St Thomas’s. A Trust statement to the council meeting admits that after this acquisition, as early as January 2021, the Royal Brompton will increasingly exist in name only:
“RB&HFT will cease to exist as an independent Foundation Trust after joining a newly restructured Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Both Boards recognise the importance of the Royal Brompton name and heritage, and both Trusts are committed to maintaining this as part of the naming of the new heart and lung centre.”
The Brompton Board claims that there has already been “public engagement”: however this was 18 months ago in early 2019, when the proposal was not a merger but a “partnership” arrangement. The public’s comments even then noted that “they are doing it for the money – its valuable land,” while one predicted that that “there could be future pressure from NHS England to merge, describing it as ‘a bureaucrat’s dream’.”
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