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Camden News - by TOM FOOT
Published: 16 July 2009
David Sloman: ‘a privilege to lead Royal Free’
David Sloman: ‘a privilege to lead Royal Free’
From Whittington to the Royal Free... hospital chief’s £180,000-a-year move

New boss faces cash crisis, a reputation under threat and crash-prone computer system

FORGET Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Or Adebayor to Manchester City.
Among north London’s medical fraternity, there was only one shock summer transfer being gossiped about last night (Wednesday) as the chief executive of Whittington Hospital quit to join the Royal Free in Hampstead.
David Sloman will move just a couple of miles to take the place of outgoing boss Andrew Way, chief executive at the Royal Free in Pond Street until he quit in April. Mr Sloman has spent five years at Whittington Hospital in Highgate.
“One of my greatest achievements is the opening of the new building in 2005, which I think changed the hospital,” Mr Sloman said. “It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the Royal Free through the next stages of its development.
“There is a strong track record of high achievement to build on and we can move forward with confidence and strength.”
Mr Sloman will officially take charge of the Royal Free on September 1 in a deal believed to be worth £180,000 a year – an increase on his Whittington salary.
Despite failing in his long-held ambition of transforming the Whittington into an independently-run foundation trust hospital, Mr Sloman has helped restore patient confidence. According to chairman Joe Liddane, he is leaving the Whittington in a “strong position for the future”.
Mr Liddane added: “We are in the process of securing his replacement and will make an announcement in the near future”.
While the Whittington’s reputation has improved in recent years, Mr Sloman inherits a hospital suffering from a loss of confidence as it struggles to compete in the NHS market-place. It recently abandoned its costly two-year effort to secure foundation trust status, a mark of sound financial management, and is expected to lose its contract to provide acute stroke services to its powerful neighbour, University College London Hospital (UCLH).
Analysts believe that government reforms of the way NHS hospitals are funded, including a drive to increase patient choice, mean that stronger hospitals get bigger while the stragglers fall by the wayside.
Arthur Brill, a member of the members’ council at the Royal Free, said: “My concern is for the Royal Free’s reputation. It seems to be going down in status. The fact that they moved stroke services to UCLH and are no longer attempting to go for foundation status after two years is very disturbing.” He added that the board was under “considerable pressure” to make efficiency savings over the next decade.
A Royal Free spokeswoman said Mr Sloman had been hired on account of his “strong track record of leadership”. Before the Whittington, he was chief executive of Haringey Primary Care Trust, having served two years as chief executive of Marylebone Primary Care Group. Between 1992 and 1999 he held a number of senior roles in Camden and Islington Community NHS Trust.
When Mr Sloman joined the Whittington in 2004, he told the New Journal: “If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that there’s rarely such a thing as plain sailing for the NHS.”
He will be in for a rough ride at the Royal Free, if the troubles faced by his predecessor are anything to go by.
Mr Way’s tenure was criticised for the introduction of a patients records system that repeatedly crashed and ended up plunging the hospital £10million into the red.
He described his last few months at the Royal Free as the “toughest days of his career”, apologising for a “poor service to patients”. The records system is still making life difficult, according to hospital staff.
On leaving, Mr Way proposed a fire-sale of hospital assets, including Queen Mary House in Hampstead, to help balance the books.
He suggested the board consider a merger deal with neighbouring hospitals to help compete for major contracts.
One Royal Free insider said: “We are talking about a merger, potentially with UCLH. It’s not going to be today or tomorrow, probably after the next election. I don’t think we need a new chief executive – we need a new finance man.”

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