Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A&E unit in London faces axe... after PM promised personally it would stay open

  • EXCLUSIVE: Mail on Sunday can reveal plans for Charing Cross Hospital
  • Casualty to be replaced with 'urgent care centre' and moved four miles away
  • Local Labour MP accused Prime Minister of being 'entirely dishonest'

A casualty unit that David Cameron personally promised would stay open is due to be closed, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Days before council elections in May, the Prime Minister visited Hammersmith in London and stated that Charing Cross Hospital in nearby Fulham ‘will retain its A&E and services’.
But the organisation that runs the hospital intends to close the department and replace it with an ‘urgent care centre’, NHS papers show.
Shutdown: The A&E unit at London's Charing Cross Hospital will be replaced with an 'urgent care centre', according to NHS papers seen by The Mail on Sunday - despite David Cameron pledging to save it in May

Urgent care centres can be run by GPs and nurses rather than A&E consultants, and have far fewer facilities to care for the seriously ill or injured.
Charing Cross’s A&E will move to St Mary’s Hospital four miles away in Paddington, according to papers presented in July to the board of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which runs five of the capital’s hospitals.
By 2020, Charing Cross will be left with ‘urgent and emergency care services appropriate to a local hospital’ – NHS-speak for a hospital stripped of a fully staffed and fully equipped A&E and its emergency wards. More than half the site will be sold off as inpatient beds are slashed from 360 to 24.
Andy Slaughter, Labour MP for Hammersmith, accused the Prime Minister and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt of dishonestly claiming Charing Cross would keep its A&E when they knew of plans to downgrade it.
He said: ‘It’s entirely dishonest. Mr Cameron knew exactly what the Trust would be doing.
Bedside manner: David Cameron promised personally that the unit would remain open just four months ago
Charing Cross was one of four A&Es across north-west London recommended for closure in a controversial multi-million-pound review.
Last October Mr Hunt agreed to closures at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex – which will shut on Wednesday. But he appeared to step in to save the units at Charing Cross and Ealing, telling Parliament that they ‘should continue to offer an A&E service even if it is in a different shape or size to that currently offered’.
In June, Mr Hunt repeated his message, saying: ‘They will be full A&Es. Anyone suggesting otherwise is just engaging in political scaremongering.’
However, Mr Slaughter accused Mr Hunt and Mr Cameron of ‘double-speak’ and ‘betrayal’. He said: ‘By continuing to say there will be an A&E at Charing Cross they are misleading people.’
MPs from all parties are worried about the closures. Last month The Mail on Sunday told how Tory MP David Burrowes feared for his life as he waited almost 36 hours for an emergency appendix operation in ‘chaotic’ North Middlesex Hospital.
It is having to cope with 40,000 extra patients a year due to the closure of Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E in Enfield, North London, when only 26,000 were predicted.
Blow: The closure at the hospital (pictured) follows another at nearby Hammersmith Hospital in west London

Karen Buck, Labour MP for Westminster North where St Mary’s is located, is concerned that the hospital will not cope. She said: ‘The bottom line is that you don’t close A&Es in the middle of an A&E crisis. And we are in the middle of an A&E crisis.’
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust claimed that while its clinical strategy stated Charing Cross’s A&E would be replaced, this was not actually the case.
A spokeswoman said: ‘There is no proposal to close the A&E at Charing Cross Hospital. We are awaiting further guidance from NHS England.’
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The Health Secretary has already been clear that Charing Cross Hospital should continue to offer an A&E service which provides high quality urgent and emergency care services 24/7.
'Local doctors will have the final say about the exact range of services provided at this hospital, but no decisions have been made yet.

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