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Tuesday 22nd May 2018

Open season on trusts in debt

22nd April 2006

Yesterday's London Evening Standard ran a story headed "Toddlers locked out as nursery accused of not paying its bills." Apparently it took two reporters to cover this simple tale of the Happy Times nursery in West London which found itself under wraps with "padlocked doors and two security guards." Dozens of parents - and most importantly their children - were quite simply locked out because, it was claimed, the nursery had not paid its rent on time.

So why is this of interest to us? Or to the people of London on the day we were supposed to be celebrating the Queen's 80th birthday? Well of course it isn't - except for one small detail. The landlord in question was an NHS Trust with £22 million of debt. Yes, there are many faces to today's hot topic. Is this a case of a desperate Trust trying to balance its books, a consequence of poor administration or a private company trying to take advantage of a public sector organisation? Who knows? I expect it will all come out in the wash but the most interesting point for me is that I'm not sure it would have made the papers at all if it hadn't been yet another angle from which to strike at the NHS's dire financial situation. Even healthy children are being caught in the crossfire...

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