Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Shocked reaction to Accident and Emergency closure

Thursday July 31, 2014
A publicity campaign, informing the residents of west London that their local hospital A&E services are closing, has been met with alarm and dismay by local people.
The NHS’s public relations consultants have issued posters and leaflets telling residents their local A&E services at Hammersmith hospital are ‘changing’, when in fact they are being closed on September 10, with major emergencies being diverted to the already over-stretched St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Current NHS plans would also see more than 80% of the Charing Cross Hospital site sold off, with its A&E department replaced with GP services.
NHS bosses appointed spin specialists, M&C Saatchi, at considerable expense to tax payers, to make these major closures palatable to the public. Their tactics have been described by Hammersmith & Fulham Council as ‘Orwellian’ - read more here. The Council has called for a vigorous defence of Charing Cross Hospital and the borough’s A&Es - read more here.
In an effort to alert local residents to the impending threat to local services, H&F Council has been sending regular updates to residents through its weekly news alerts and there has been a horrified response from the public.
Local resident, Derek Gassyt, emailed the council to say: "After some years in Hammersmith, myself and my wife have had a number of visits to Charing Cross, Hammersmith, and Chelsea Westminster Hospitals, for both A&E and various clinics. It’s quite obvious to us that there is NO excess capacity in any of these A&Es or clinics. The notion of closing any of the above and maintaining any sort adequate public health is a horribly misinformed policy!!"
He is far from alone in his concerns. The council’s inbox has been overflowing with concerned residents’ comments.
Local cancer patient Deb T says; "I am horrified by the weasel words used in a publically-funded, so-called 'information' campaign. The local closures - sorry, changes - are ill-conceived. St Mary's is already in breach of its A&E targets and hard to reach by public transport - hardly a local solution for patients in West London."
Rose Hunt adds; "We need hospitals for a growing population. There are so many high rise flats being built in this area proving that we need to keep our hospitals with their excellent staff and services. St Mary’s are under enough pressure already, the buildings are ancient (with the exception of the private wing)."
A resident describing himself and ‘Old Mike’ says: "As an 80 year-old man and wife we are horrified by this proposal. We have used Charing Cross for emergency treatment and see no way that the proposal could serve these needs like this. Since the proposal is to replace the hospital with a facility 13% the size or even less, does it mean the other 87% is available for burying the people that would not get necessary medical treatment?"
Joanne Gilhooly says; "I am extremely worried about not having a proper A&E in my community. I feel that we should not be pushed into accepting this" and Guy Lord says; "A borough with a population the size of Leeds needs viable A&E and acute services."
Maggie Navarrete says her boyfriend’s life was saved by staff at Hammersmith Hospital’s A&E. She says: " Had we been taken to another hospital, without the outstanding cardiac facilities Hammersmith Hospital, and in particular, the knowledge and experience of staff in the A&E, we may have lost a young life which was saved, rehabilitated and contributing once again in society."
H&F Council Leader, Cllr Stephen Cowan, has urged NHS managers to take heed of the views of local residents. "Local people are in the dark about the impending closure of Hammersmith A&E. If they turn up after 10 September, they will find the A&E closed and that could put lives at risk. The only reason anyone has any idea the A&E is closing is because of publicity from the council and local community campaigners."
NHS managers say centralising A&E services at fewer, specialist centres will improve the quality of the services available and will help save lives. An NHS spokesperson says: " Following the closure of Hammersmith A&E, we have prepared extra capacity at St Mary's nearby for around 13 extra admissions a day by opening a 15 bed elderly medical ward. There will be an extended 24/7 urgent care centre at Hammersmith to care for patients with a range of minor illnesses and conditions that are urgent but not life-threatening, such as cuts or minor fractures which need an x-ray. There is no proposal in our clinical strategy to close the A&E at Charing Cross Hospital.  We are awaiting further guidance from NHS England to guide the development of emergency services appropriate for a local hospital. Our strategy is clear that there will be a continued 24/7 emergency service at Charing Cross Hospital."
London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Website

My family and I have lived in the area for nearly fifty years and have had many occasions to use both Charing X and Hammersmith Hospitals over the years. The decision to close both of the A & E Departments at these hospitals had obviously been taken by people who have no ides of the size of the area that these Hospitals cover and the large numbers of local residents who will now be inconvenienced and put at risk by their thoughtless and callous decision. To put all of West London emergencies into St Mary''s begs the question - can St Mary''s cope with the massive increase of calls on their services that is going to occur? I am pretty sure that St Mary''s is just as overstretched as every where else, so what kind of in-depth analysis has been done about the future? Very, very little it seems to me. This is surely the stupidest of all the crass decisions and has to be opposed as strongly as possible.
From William Terry on 07/08/2014 at 15:53
Instead of listing the clear residential dissatisfaction re the closing of Charing Cross A&E, H&F Council should detail what they are doing:
1) TO STOP THE CLOSURE;
2) TO CREATE A LEGAL BODY/VEHICLE BY WHICH RESIDENTS WILL MAKE THEIR VOICES OBEYED.
Talk is cheap. Organisation, mobilisation, structure, dedication, time, legal advice is not. But that is what you are employed, paid, and voted in for. That is what you promised and are now reneging on.
From Andrea on 07/08/2014 at 15:33
Absolutely shocking. Its always the poor and the most needed that suffer. Not only are you planning to redevelop the whole of Earls court and West Kensington with even more people moving into the area and now you close two major A&E hospital units, for who's gain?? Only yours and your mates to re develop into un affordable housing for the workers of this city. The only winners are the deceitful greedy and heartless politicians and their select friends in business. There will be blood on your souls when in the winter the old and needy die and suffer needlessly for you. You leave it all so late that there seems there is nothing we can do to stand and up and fight for our community. You should go to prison for such action, as other businesses would if they did the same heartless act for financial gain. Its utterly immoral.

Reply from H&F Council: SJ - Not sure who your comments are aimed at, but H&F Council is against the closure of local hospital services and is working hard witht he local community to prevent closures. When the new Administration was elected in May, one of its first announcements was a review of the redevelopment of Earls Court.
From SJ on 07/08/2014 at 15:21
We are horrified of the idea of closure of A&E in Charing Cross Hospital; we as a family had saving treatments, in one occasion in late night I had to be taken to the A&E, I had my urgent surgical operation there and then, otherwise I would have died.
From amir on 07/08/2014 at 12:41
My husband and I are shocked and dismayed for the decision to close, or ''change'' the local hospitals. Charing Cross has an excellent A&E ward and it would be a horrendous loss for the public if we lose it. The strange thing is that with a growing population, and extended life expectancies, how can you really think of closing hospitals? Instead, we should be talking about opening new ones. When will the government finally listen to the people?
From SP on 07/08/2014 at 12:33
To the current administration, I would like to ask:
1. Is it better to spend billions of pounds fighting wars in foreign countries than maintaining hospitals in England?
2. Does the decision of closing existing and top rate hospitals without building newer ones for a population that keeps growing, seem to be in the interest of taxpayers'' emergency needs?
From sghose on 07/08/2014 at 11:41
Longer journey times getting patients to appropriate A&E Facilities has been statistically associated with higher death rates. If this move goes ahead and death rates increase then the people making these decisions should be charged with corporate murder or manslaughter charges.
From John Hicks on 07/08/2014 at 11:02
There are no valid grounds for closing A&E at Charing Cross Hosp, irrespective of any publicity campaign and what it may claim!
The local population is increasing and A&E at Chelsea & Westminster is already at capacity.
Nothing else can be done, nor can money be spent on anything else, if everyone is ill.
Health is the number one priority for any government!
From Stephen on 07/08/2014 at 09:54
Disgusted by the closure. It''s presently a fine hospital, conveniently located and I don''t even know where st Mary''s is and I''ve live in h''smith for 35 years.
From Tim on 07/08/2014 at 09:17
We tax payers do not want our money spent on spurious political messages like the one you just sent. (The Conservatives were no better). You take our money in order to provide basic living facilities to the people of the Borough. Instead you spend the money on continuously trying to hammer home how good you are and how bad your opposition is. You have lost sight of why you are there. You have allowed yourselves to get caught up in political spin rather than doing what you should be doing. This is a Governance issue. You should establish your Terms of Reference, and stick to it. You are taking your public for fools... You should understand that you will be judged in elections on your performance, and if you continue to waste our money on petty propaganda you will soon be out of office. Anthony Jenks
From Anthony Jenks on 07/08/2014 at 09:11
Hammersmith is the busiest suburb in the Uk, what is the alternative if we need A&E, Hammersmith and Chelsea which are very difficult to get too due to there location. Does any one in Hammersmith and Fulham council understand how difficult and time consuming it is to get anywhere in this suburb and to get to these alternative A&E''s in an emergency etc,
will be a nightmare and detrimental to the public health.
From Barry on 07/08/2014 at 08:51
My wife is in there at the moment and there was also a baby brought in blue tjat may well of died if it had had to go the further distance to find an a and e. We need to keep our hospitals. Leave them alone.
From Tina on 07/08/2014 at 08:40
It is a dreadful shame that our local hospitals are being so amalgamated and services so much needed by the community to be lost. Nothing we have been told really reassures locals that we will be properly looked after in the future, and needs be met. The feeling is that managers are pushing through decisions without consideration or understanding , and without enough foresight of what the consequences are likely to be. The huge loss of our local A & E and hospital beds will be a much regretted mistake in the future.
From Chloe on 07/08/2014 at 08:26
Absolutely shocked and disgusted!!!!!!!
With 2 young children now at risk
And myself in the construction industry,
If I cut myself at work then it looks like I will bleed to death.
Why is my country being run by overpaid bigots
Who have no idea of reality while they are sitting in their mansions with their free private healthcare for all their family?
Words cannot explain the anger I have with regards to this.
From Storer on 07/08/2014 at 08:13
Do they really think that we are stupid enough to believe their spin? Shame on them. What is the betting that the decision makers have their cosy personal private health policies in place for them and their families. The rest of us can basically just die or at very best muddle through the dregs of an emergency service if we have a serious problem. Who cares so long as they are saving money?? It appears that the answer is no one.
From Adrian on 07/08/2014 at 07:32
As far as I am concerned changes have been taking place for a long time. I had to pay to get an ultrasound done at Charing Cross as otherwise would be sent to a variety of clinics. On another occasion, I was turned away from the urgent care clinic when I needed a change of dressing following an operation, and sent to Parsons Green. I needed a steroid injection another time and again was sent to Parsons Green. My partner broke his hip and at 97 years old was moved from Charing Cross to St.Mary''s (a manic hospital) for his operation, and then moved back to charing cross. No wonder he died.
We may as well all jump in the Thames now because changes will be made, however unsuitable, lives will be lost, and all the protests etc will be ignored.
Good luck Hammersmith and Fulham. You''re going to need it.
From Jenny on 06/08/2014 at 23:36
Since moving from kent to Fulham I have seen many changes some barmy some good. Most barmy reducing council tax. Means no services for older or disabled people. Closing one hospital that cured my cancer is one more
From MR S M CASELLA on 06/08/2014 at 22:58
I suffer with atrial fibrillation. If my tablets do not work I go to charing cross hospital a&e where I am treated immediately. I also visit the cardiology section and the dermalogical outpatients. I always have to wait a minimum of forty five minutes and at least eight weeks for follow up appointments. This suggests to me that resources are strained, how can it possibly work with a reduction in services? The population is on the increase, ageing population and more cures require more care and medical attention not less. I am so angry that there is a plan to make our lives even more difficult...why? For the sake of money?
From Philip rosewall on 06/08/2014 at 22:01
Whilst not surprised that so many people didn''t know, it just shows how real voter apathy has become and how disconnected the establishment is.
Our elected rulers no longer care about what we think, want our need (I'm taking national level where these decisions are made I.e. government - not local councils who are connected with their citizens) and people are STILL surprised by this. Maybe more of the shocked, outraged people should get involved in the numerous movements trying to stop all this and things hat change.
From IcyEars on 06/08/2014 at 21:08
Its shocking that a@e is closing, more and more propertys are being built in west london, but this does not help the medical care available for people. That ,and the solid traffic in the area, lives will be lost with the closure
From Rebecca on 06/08/2014 at 20:59
The rationalisation of A&E departments in the same way as rationalising the way Stroke patients are treated at specialist centres will only improve the services provided, as long as remaining centres are fully staffed
From JohnM on 06/08/2014 at 20:20
I totally support the Imperial College initiative to create centres of excellence for A&E emergencies so that heart, stroke, orthopaedic cases are sent to centres of excellece rather than each A&E trying to be expert at everything
From Wilmot on 06/08/2014 at 19:55
What a bigoted article.
I am not shocked at all.
Finally someone is doing something about the sub-standard NHS facilities that we are lumbered with.
Yes, get rid of the poor and expensive A&E''s which aren''t working so well. Keep the better ones, and St Mary''s is just about the best in the world. Funnel the money that is saved by closing the sub-standard CX hospitals, into supporting and growing the best in the bunch.
It makes perfect sense.
From A_Zoran on 06/08/2014 at 19:24
Nice propoganda piece. Going to bother actually informing residents why this is happenening and how the NHS made this decision? Are the councillors who made various claims about the closure now going to resign? Or are you going to just keep churning out sob stories with no real facts or discussion?
From Tim on 06/08/2014 at 18:58
These closures are bordering on the criminally negligent as the principal specialist teams for which Charing Cross is renowned will be disbanded, both for A & E and chronic conditions. St. Mary''s clearly does not have the spare capacity required
From Vaughan on 06/08/2014 at 18:52
This is a travesty - lives will be lost in gnarled up traffic jams all the way to St Mary''s A&E. What''s the point of extra capacity at St Mary''s, if being transported there in an emergency (when every second counts in a life and death situation)when it is without doubt going to be a much more lengthy journey for residents of LBHF, than being taken to HH. The cardiac services at Hammersmith Hospital are second to none. Closing A&E may seem to be an excellent idea all round theoretically ''on paper'', but has gridlocked traffic all the way to St Mary''s really been thought through and considered for emergency patients suffering strokes and heart attacks? And without doubt, there will be a lot more stress placed on ambulance personnel.

Response from H&F Council: Cardiac emergencies will still be treated at Hammersmith Hospital - all other emergency services are being closed under the current NHS plan.
From Local Person on 06/08/2014 at 18:48
Closing the A&E of Hammersmith and Charing Cross Hospitals will result in destroying St Mary''s too as this is already overburdened however much they may expand and reinforce this.St Mary''s is already big as it is.
From brewster evi on 06/08/2014 at 18:34
My eyes were opened by reading a leaflet on a visit to Charing X hospital last night. They are closing the A&E, not just changing it! Absolute madness!!! Come on, people - wake up and smell the coffee!! Get behind this all-be-it, last minute campaign!!!
From CHRISTOPHER W12 on 06/08/2014 at 18:25
So what would happen if my wife had another stroke....she would first have to go A&E as has been the case three times...then filter through to the Stroke unit at Charing Cross. Who would actually recognise a stroke of a certain kind without first going to A & E?. In Feb this year my wife had her third stroke and time was wasted because the paramedics decided she had a heart problem and she was whisked off to St Thomases Hospital. The point being the paramedics are brilliant but they are not Doctors and A and E are the best people to make the correct call/diagnosis. Shutting the A & E at charing Cross will mean possibly fatal delays especially for stroke patients not all of whom are easy to diagnose. Terrible idea.
From Derek on 06/08/2014 at 18:21
There is a world of difference between the words''changing'' and ''closing''! I think we have not only been treated very shabbily, but in my opinion, we have been lied to. This is disgraceful!
From J Hume on 06/08/2014 at 18:19
This is a complete outrage and another sign of disregarding residents needs and concerns and putting commercial interest if few fat cats in front of local residents. If the council and NHS will allow the proposal, I personally (with other thousands of other residents) will do anything in my power to ensure this proposed development will be blocked - you watch!.


Reply from H&F Council: The council does not support these NHS proposals. We are doing everything we can to prevent the loss of vital A&E services in the borough.
From Sasha on 06/08/2014 at 18:15
How can they close the A and E at Charing Cross when the recent research from the University of California at San Francisco under the leadership of Dr. Renee Hsia has shown that the ripple effect of such closures means that you are more likely to die at the A and Es you then have to go to. (e.g. 15 per cent more deaths from heart attacks. So much for the NHS using evidence based practice! Anyone for a sit-in?
From Lorraine Ainscow-Searle on 06/08/2014 at 18:07
The publicity campaign is irresponsibly misleading. It is clear that it is purposefully so. M&C Saatchi should be ashamed of themselves. When they terminate the employment of a member of their own staff, do they tell them that their job is "changing"? I think not. However the ultimate responsibility lies with the NHS people responsible for briefing M&C Saatchi. It is M&C Saatchi's role to suggest proposals to fit the brief given to them. But it is their NHS client's role to decide if the proposals are correct, and to reject, or modify, or approve them.
(I worked in the same industry as M&C Saatchi for 40 years, including working for many public sector clients. I know how this works.)
I have read a quote from the relevant NHS person saying, in effect, that they rely on M&C Saatchi as their ''experts''. That is a total dereliction of their responsibility as the client, the budget holder, the ones who have to decide if what is suggested is ''right''. Shame on the NHS team who approved this campaign and allowed such a cynical, misleading, and immoral publicity campaign to be published.
From A Resident on 06/08/2014 at 18:05
It will be so very hard if Charing X closes - St Mary''s Paddington is too far and overstretched as it is.
From Audrey Allfree on 06/08/2014 at 17:58
Am I correct in thinking Labour''s 2014 manifesto had five pledges the first of which was: to save A&Es at Charing Cross and Hammersmith hospitals
From Al on 06/08/2014 at 17:57
Its outrageous to consider closing A&E at Charing Cross, perhaps the money spent paying M&C Saatchi could have gone towards keeping it open, what an outrageous waste of money, and shame if the A&E closes - please fight to keep it open.
From fiona warhurst on 06/08/2014 at 17:57
H&F Council
This is politically motivated scaremongering! Facts...
1. Hammersmith Hospital will continue to have an Urgent Care Centre open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all non-life threatening cases.
2. Research published today shows that centralising specialist services can save lives... For example: since 2010, anyone suffering a stroke in London is taken to one of eight 24-hour specialist units rather than their nearest hospital. A study led by University College London has found that this is saving 96 lives a year. So centralising A&E can save lives!
From Bob on 06/08/2014 at 17:53
It will be impossible without the A&E the Chelsea & Westminster will be even more over crowded and other hospitals too far away.
What a mad thing to do surely hospitals more important than buildings
From Gilly on 06/08/2014 at 17:50
This is really the limit! I was recently discharged from a department at Charing X with the assurance that should I have any further emergencies that A & E would be there for me. I feel duped. The whole thing is shambolic to say the least and lives WILL be lost because of this charade.
From JamesinShepsBush on 06/08/2014 at 17:38
It is appalling that residents in Hammersmith and Fulham have had no more notice of closure of local A & E in Charing Cross Hospital. There must be nearer facilities than St Mary''s or people will suffer. I am strongly in favour of continued availability at Charing Cross and beg LBHF to reconsider.

Reply from H&F Council: It is the NHS who are closing the A&E, not the council. LBHF is against the closure.
From Simon Meyer on 06/08/2014 at 17:36
I had writtern directly to the Secretary of State about this matter on several occasions since the closure was first threatened. Each time I have received a bland reply from a minion. The Government isn''t listening or taking due notice of people''s concerns. If the NHS is now lead by clinicians then we should hold them to account. Looking solely at the medical issues without taking account of all the practical considerations of making such a massice change is a grave folly. This area is increasing in population and in age profile and has some of the worst transport problems, e.g. when traffic is bad Hammersmith Broadway can be log jammed for hours, so can routes to St Mary''s or Chelsea and Westminster. The answer if you are ill is to call for an ambulance - at least that way they can put on ther sirens and traffic will move aside - the problem will be the Ambulance Service won''t be able to cope !
From Brendan on 06/08/2014 at 17:34
Very upsetting
From Jensen on 06/08/2014 at 17:33
What is outrageous is that they (Imperial and Saatchi) are still saying it won''t close and nothing is being axed. The lies they have told over this closure should be illegal! As should depriving West Londoners of adequate health care in favour of luxury apartments and selling off local assets. Orewellian is too good a description for these tactics. Venal is better.
From Anita Ponton on 06/08/2014 at 17:32
Once again, a completely stupid article about the NHS lacking any analysis or substance. I could not care less if 1 or 100,000 local residents wrote to you expressing their concerns: what matters is a) expert opinion and b) how we get value for money. It is easy to whinge about healthcare when one ignores the costs. It is less easy to come up with policy decisions fit - and affordable - for the future. The current constellation of NHS services in London is an accident of history. Any sensible administration should continuously be challenging the status quo. That is in the interest of Londoners. Whilst the howls of protest are based on anecdotes like "the NHS saved my boyfriend's life", I'm afraid we cannot have a sensible debate. I am disappointed that the Council is promoting policymaking by emotion rather than fact.
From Chris S on 06/08/2014 at 17:29
I cannot even fathom the closure / part closure of Charing Cross Hospital. As someone has already mentioned the growing number of new homes being built and those in the pipeline will increase the local population even more and St Mary''s is not that easy to get to if you need emergency care - a crowded tube is not ideal.
From LG Hammersmith on 06/08/2014 at 17:24
This is horrendous - I cannot add anything further to the comments already made but I add my voice to them. I live in K&C and use St. Mary''s, already over stretched with long waits at A&E; I have Tenants living in H&F and feel for them should they need A&E - this kind of closure has the effect on people - when considering whether or not to live in H&F - to choose not to, to find another area with better health care. I am shocked and appalled by this lack of foresight - there are more and more flats being built, the population is only growing - we need to keep every one of out local health services, particularly A&E.
From j Pruskin on 06/08/2014 at 17:19

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