Sir Bernard Tomlinson, whose inquiry team recommended the closure of the hospital, took many conference delegates by surprise by telling senior Bart's representatives that estimates of their financial deficits were wrong. 'You are very much worse off than you think,' he said. 'Unless you are handed a very large sum of money in the new year, your position will be precarious in the extreme.'
Asked to expand on his remarks, Sir Bernard pointed out that during the summer the projected deficit being quoted for Bart's next April was pounds 5m. 'I was told last week it was more likely to be pounds 10m,' he said. Asked why he was still collating information when his report had been completed last month, Sir Bernard, a former consultant neuropathologist, said: 'Don't you think a certain amount of curiosity is justifiable after 15 months?'
Professor Mike Besser, Bart's chief executive, said later the hospital was projecting a trading deficit of pounds 4m for next April and had an additional non-recurring deficit of pounds 4m. By the second half of next year, the hospital's deficit would be down to about pounds 2.5m. 'In addition, Bart's is already using its beds more efficiently than any other hospital in the region. Yet we are the one that has been chosen for shutting down.
'It is not surprising that people think there is a hit list and a hidden agenda for health services in London.'
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