Saturday, 28 June 2014

Four major A&Es set to be scrapped as remaining hospitals face 50% rise in attendance

Departments downgraded to no longer treat heart attack or stroke patients

  • Four nearby A&Es will stretch to care for nearly two million people
The closure of four major Accident and Emergency units is set to be approved this week, forcing hundreds of thousands of seriously ill patients to travel further for emergency care.

The units across North-West London will be scrapped and replaced by Urgent Care Centres once the proposals are formally approved at a board meeting of NHS officials on Tuesday.
There has been huge opposition from doctors and patients during a public consultation period, and campaigners argue that residents in some of the most deprived areas of the capital will be put at risk.

Hammersmith Hospital in North West London is one of the four to be losing its A&E department
Hammersmith Hospital in North West London is one of the four to be losing its A&E department
Central Middlesex Hospital's A&E department is being downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre
Central Middlesex Hospital's A&E department is being downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre

The downgraded departments will be prevented from treating a huge array of life-threatening illnesses, such as shock, internal bleeding, most broken bones, breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes.
The A&Es earmarked for closure are at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith  hospitals. Just four major hospitals with fully functioning casualty wards will remain, serving 1.9 million people.
It is estimated that each of the remaining A&Es, which are already struggling to cope, will see attendances rise by 50 per cent.
The closure recommendations are contained in papers for Tuesday’s board meeting of NHS North West London.

Charing Cross Hospital will lose its A&E department
Ealing Hospital's A&E department is being axed under the changes
A&E departments at Charing Cross (left) and Ealing (right) face closures in preference of Urgent Care Centres

However, there is evidence that the UCCs already in place in the area – which are being run by private  providers – are seriously failing patients. 
Responses to Freedom of Information requests reveal that one confused patient attending Ealing Hospital’s UCC in February last year had his emergency treatment delayed by four hours after locum staff did not realise how ill he was.
And in a data protection breach, confidential medical notes for six children treated at the UCC, which were intended for their GPs, were sent to the wrong fax number.
Colin Standfield, chairman of the Save Our Hospitals campaign in Ealing, said: ‘It does confirm our worst fears that they have closed the four A&Es they wanted to close in the first place, and it’s become even more clear that the main rationale for this is to sell off land for residential development. All this comes in the face of  massive opposition.’
A statement from the consultants’ group at Ealing Hospital said: ‘We, as frontline consultants, do not feel comfortable with the speed at which changes are being made, the great loss of capacity for inpatient beds in London, and lengthening A&E queues.
‘Overwhelmingly it seems difficult to appreciate how these changes are anything other than financially driven.’
Ealing Council has suggested it could seek a judicial review if Ealing Hospital’s A&E department is closed.
But Dr Mark Spencer, medical director of NHS North West London, said: ‘I have no doubts at all that the care we will be providing will be better than it is currently.’

Mail Online 

Friday, 27 June 2014

Hunt on the run over Hammersmith A&E

Jeremy Hunt continues to dodge questions about his plans for Hammersmith & Fulham’s hospitals. 

A fortnight ago in the House of Commons I asked him to keep his promise not to close Hammersmith Hospital A&E until there was spare capacity in neighbouring hospitals and primary care services to cope.  I wrote about that exchange here. 

Earlier this week I tried again when Hunt was forced to come to the Commons to answer Andy Burnham’s Urgent Question on patient safety.  

“I want to ask about the safety of the 22,000 patients who use HammersmithHospital A&E every year. There is no capacity or increase in the acute primary or community care services locally, which the Secretary of State set as a prerequisite for any A&E closures in west London. Will he ask Imperial Healthcare Trust to review plans to close the A&E at Hammersmith. Will he answer that question, as my constituents in Shepherds Bush and White City deserve an answer to it, and not the spin and the game playing that I always get from the Secretary of State?” 

Once again he did not even attempt to address the question.  Hunt said when announcing the closure 30 October 2013 it would only close when practicable, ie that alternative services were in place.  We oppose the closure but thought at least he would honour this commitment. 

But Imperial at their last board meeting conceded there were already too few beds at St Mary’s – where all Hammersmith patients will be told to go – and the primary care budgets for H&F are actually being cut as money is moved from inner to outer London. 

The Fulham Gazette got the same evasive response when they door-stepped Hunt and asked him about the closure of Charing Cross’ A&E. 

So the Save our Hospitals campaign continues. Next up on 5th of July  is a rally and party. We will start at 2pm on Fulham Palace Road across from Charing Cross Hospital, and will move to nearby Frank Banfield Park for entertainment, stalls and birthday cake  - the NHS is 66. I hope you can join us. 

Meanwhile the new Labour council has entered intensive negotiations with Imperial to try and save the borough’s A&Es, calling for them to respect the outcome of the election, the lack of emergency beds and the need for a genuine consultation with the people of west London. 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Community vows to FIGHT for Charing Cross Hospital!

Please watch the latest Save Our Hospitals video.

Save Charing Cross Hospital

We need to talk about the NHS - Cameron must break the Crosby-imposed silence

If the Tories won't face up to the problems in the health service, it's time to make way for a government that will.

If the Tories won't face up to the problems in the health service, it's time to make way for a government that will.
Ambulances are seen at the Accident and Emergency department of St. Thomas' Hospital in London. Photograph: Getty Images.

David Cameron used to say that his priority could be summed up in three letters: NHS. Now, it seems, he prefers not to talk about it. The word in Westminster is that, on the advice of Lynton Crosby, the Prime Minister has asked his ministers for a period of pre-election silence on the NHS. So the Queen's Speechcame and went without even a mention of Mr Cameron's erstwhile priority. The list of reasons why Mr Cameron no longer wants to talk about the NHS is growing longer by the day. The last week has brought a stream of statistics confirming what many people suspect: the NHS is heading downhill under his government.
First, we learnt that the NHS missed its cancer treatment standard for the first time, leaving a growing number of people waiting longer for the start of treatment and families facing prolonged anguish.
Then, on Wednesday, came news that the deterioration in cancer care was worse than we thought and extended to people with suspected cancers waiting for tests. Waiting times for diagnostic tests are at a six-year high, with 17,000 waiting longer than they should.
Thursday brought the news that the number of people on NHS waiting lists had gone past the three million mark for the first time in six years - highly embarrassing for a Prime Minister who once said that the test of his NHS re-organisation would be its effect on waiting times.
Finally, it was revealed on Friday that A&E departments across the country are in the grip of a summer crisis, with record numbers attending and tens of thousands waiting too long to be seen. The NHS overall has now missed its A&E target for five weeks running; more worryingly, hospital A&Es have not hit it 47 weeks.
A&E is the barometer of the whole health and care system. This barometer is now clearly warning us that there are severe storms ahead for the NHS unless urgent steps are taken to put it back on track. Perhaps this explains why, after a run of negative statistics, there were reports that the government had resorted to panic measures to shore up England's hospitals.
Without any great announcement, or even so much as a press release, it emerged that large amounts of money are to be thrown at the NHS in a bid to keep further bad headlines at bay. It is not clear what the government has decided because of the lack of a clear statement. Some newspaper reports this weekend said £650m in "new money" had been found, while others believe it to be £250m. Whatever the amount, what is clear is that is that is unprecedented for a Prime Minister to have to throw millions at a summer A&E crisis. What is also clear is that, right now, the NHS is in a very dangerous position. All the signs show that it is slipping into a serious condition but it has a government in charge that is not prepared to talk about it. This is not good enough.
Minsters cannot be allowed to take such significant decisions without any explanation of why they are doing it or where the money is coming from. Cameron must order his ministers to come to the Commons early this week to answer these points.
Beyond that, there must now be a proper debate about what is happening in the NHS, why it is going wrong and what must be done to put it right. The reason why David Cameron is so desperate to avoid this debate at all costs is because it brings him back to his biggest misjudgement as Prime Minister: allowing Andrew Lansley to proceed with his ill-considered reorganisation. He was explicitly warned it would damage standards of patient care - and it has. Throwing money at the problems of his own making is no long-term solution for the NHS he has so disastrously destabilised.
David Cameron's great problem is that, though he thinks he can keep things quiet with a few bungs here and there, the public can see for themselves what is happening. They know it has for much harder to get a GP appointments. They are hearing the stories of friends and family being told that they can't have the treatment they need and facing the agonising choice of waiting in discomfort or paying to go private.
The voters are on to Mr Cameron and his damage to the NHS. Worryingly for him, a poll this week found that, for the first time in a long time, the NHS has risen to the top of voters' concerns. Storm clouds are gathering over the NHS, but it is trapped in a situation where the government of the day is not prepared to discuss them. This won't do. If they won't face up to the problems in the NHS, it's time to make way for a government that will.
Andy Burnham is the shadow health secretary

Friday, 13 June 2014

Andy Slaughter MP: Health Secretary ducks and dives over hospital closures

Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, challenges Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over A&E closures in his latest political column.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter

Yesterday at Health Questions I asked Jeremy Hunt a fairly straightforward question about the closure of Hammersmith Hospital’s A&E department.
In response he got quite excited and started talking about Labour Party leaflets about Charing Cross Hospital and how I should not be invited to the opening of what he had planned for that site.
Slightly odd, even by House of Commons standards, but once you know the background all may become clear. The closure of Hammersmith A&E and the demolition of Charing Cross are both part of the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS, which also includes closing Central Middlesex A&E and downgrading Ealing Hospital. With the support of hundreds of thousands of west London residents I have been campaigning against this for two years.
It was unsurprisingly the biggest issue at the recent local elections when Labour made substantial gains across west London including taking control of Hammersmith & Fulham , Cameron’s ‘favourite council’. I can see why the Tories are sore about this, and they are certainly bad losers, but here are three things you would not glean from Hunt’s intemperate performance.
He refused to deal with the immediate crisis, the subject of my question, the closure of Hammersmith’s A&E. This was – cynically - announced the day after the local elections for 10 September. But at the same time Imperial Healthcare Trust admitted there would not be capacity at St Mary’s Paddington to take the 22,000 patients who attend Hammersmith annually.
They have to go to St Mary’s because Central Middlesex A&E will close the same day and Charing Cross is scheduled for closure within two years. But Hunt promised no closure would take effect until there was adequate capacity in the system. Not only is St Mary’s overcrowded but the primary care sector, which is also supposed to deflect patients from A&E is being cut and monies transferred from H&F to outer London. Dan Poulter, Hunt’s Health Minster, looked blank when I asked him about this, but NHS England confirmed the cuts in a recent meeting.
So I wasn’t surprised Hunt ducked answering on his own broken promise, but did raise an eyebrow when he accused me of bad faith. In fact he himself has been indulging in a little elasticity with the truth as Mike Gapes revealed in the NHS debate on Monday.
But this pales alongside Cameron’s visit to Hammersmith a week before the elections, when he promised ‘Charing Cross will retain its A&E and services’. This wholly false statement was published in the local papers and distributed across the constituency, as I explained in the Commons on Monday. In response I wrote to Cameron setting out the agreed (at least by the NHS) position with Charing Cross. I have had no reply.
Charing Cross Hospital, Hunt confirmed last October, will be demolished and at least half its site sold. All consultant emergency services will go including around 400 acute beds, the A&E, intensive care, and the country’s best stroke unit. What remains will be a combination of primary care, treatment and elective surgery. The ‘A&E’ will be a GP-led walk in centre. In my view to call something like this an A&E, for face-saving political reasons, is more than irresponsible it is dangerous.
The only person to leap to Hunt’s defence was Chelsea & Fulham MP Greg Hands. There is an irony here. Hands won his seat on the back of a manufactured campaign that Charing Cross was under threat in 2005, it was not as subsequent events proved. Only when the Tories took power did the opportunity to close one of London’s major teaching hospitals and replace it with a local hospital with no consultant emergency services take off. Tory love of real estate, the funding crisis in the NHS and the callous disregard of communities in west London have provoked the current crisis and Hunt and Hands are reaping the public response.

Jeremy Hunt fails to clear up confusion over shape of A&E services at Charing Cross and Ealing hospital

But health secretary insists 'the principle you can see a doctor in an emergency' at both hospitals will not change

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt



Health secretary Jeremy Hunt today repeated assurances Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals would retain their A&E wards but refused to clear up confusion over exactly what form they would take.
Speaking after his visit to West Middlesex Hospital this morning, he was asked to clear up confusion about exactly what emergency services would remain at the hospitals, which are being downgraded as part of the Shaping a Healthier Future programme.
"They will be full A&Es. Anyone suggesting otherwise is just engaging in political scaremongering because of the elections," he said.
"The shape of services may well change but that's because we know we've halved the number of people dying from strokes by reorganising the way services are delivered.
"The principle that you can get in and see a doctor in an emergency at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals will not change."
Asked whether they would see patients arriving by ambulance, and which conditions medics would be trained to treat, he declined to comment further, saying he was there to talk about West Middlesex Hospital.
Ealing and Charing Cross are two out of four hospitals in west London, along with Central Middlesex and Hammersmith, being downgraded as part of Shaping a Healthier Future.
NHS chiefs originally said their emergency wards would be replaced by 'urgent care centres', which treat patients with more minor injuries, but Mr Hunt has since assured MPs Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals will both have A&E wards even if they are of a 'different shape or size'.
NHS chiefs have said the changes will improve healthcare by focusing specialist care at a smaller number of hospitals and improving care in the community.
West Mid is being upgraded to a major hospital as part of the programme, meaning it will provide more specialist services. It has been promised extra funding to prepare for an expected increase in attendance at its A&E and maternity departments.

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