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NHS Croydon

Volume 573: debated on Tuesday 14 January 2014

14. What assessment he has made of the causes and effects of the 2010-11 financial losses of NHS Croydon; and if he will make a statement. (901958)

As my right hon. Friend knows, an independent report published by NHS London in June 2012 identified a systemic failure of financial management within NHS Croydon, which caused an inaccurate picture of the organisation’s financial position to be presented. However, the report found that that there was no adverse effect on local patient care.

In 2011, NHS Croydon posted a surplus of £5.5 million. This was later corrected to an overspend of £23 million—an error of £28 million. Two years later, no one has been found culpable, no one has accepted responsibility and officials are refusing to answer questions. Does the Minister accept that unless someone is held responsible, the responsibility will lie with her?

My right hon. Friend is right to feel frustrated. The report did not find any one individual responsible; it found systemic failings. What really matters is what has been done to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again, or that the chances of it happening again are minimised. Following the publication of the report, NHS London wrote to all the primary care trusts outlining the lessons to be learned, and my right hon. Friend will be relieved to hear that all clinical commissioning groups’ chief financial officers have been subject to a rigorous independent assessment and appointment process.

We come now to topical questions. It would be good to get through the list and beyond, so may I just remind Back Benchers and Front Benchers alike that topical questions and answers are supposed to be brief?