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‘Delays in hospital reforms have cost hundreds of lives’: head of London NHS

The chief executive of NHS London, Dame Ruth Carnall says delays to the reconfiguration of stroke services has resulted in lost lives and lasting disabilities.

The reconfiguration of stroke services, launched in 2010 saw the centralisation of stroke services and the closure of smaller stroke units in capital. While controversial at the time London now has the best stroke outcomes for any major industrialised city in the world.

Dame Ruth told a King’s Fund conference yesterday: ‘Service reconfiguration takes too long – even changes to stroke care took two years.

‘In the meantime several hundred people died unnecessarily and hundreds more suffered lasting disabilities.’

Dame pointed the finger at politicians for ‘reducing complex medical arguments into soundbites’.

‘There is a political aversion to major changes as we’ve seen with the debates over A and Es.’

King’s Fund chief executive, Professor Chris Ham, told BBC London news that Dame Ruth had given a ‘very truthful account’ of the work she has been leading in the last three/four years.

‘She drew attention to the difficulties politicians have put into the process setting back some of the good progress that’s been made by interfering and getting involved at the wrong stage.’