A&E closures causing chaos
You highlight the pressures that closing A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals put on surrounding emergency departments.
God help us if plans to close Charing Cross A&E go ahead. Imperial NHS Trust’s management seems in chaos, with leaked internal memos detailing cuts in acute beds and a mounting deficit. It has been unable to provide a clear description of what future “emergency” care at these sites would look like. A notice on the back door at Hammersmith still advises parents to take sick kids to the now-closed Central Middlesex A&E despite a £300,000 communications campaign.
Less discussed is the impact these closures have on local heath services that are meant to provide alternatives to A&E. GPs are facing pressure to manage more complex conditions in the home despite less funding and a greater workload; the number of district nurses in London is at an all-time low; social services budgets are being cut at precisely the time that vulnerable patients should be having more input to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
There are local initiatives doing good work but they are a drop in the ocean given the needs of the population covered by Hammersmith and Central Middlesex, which has one of the lowest life expectancies in London.
We ask North West London NHS for a moratorium on closures until they consult on plans for change based on clinical need, not budget cuts.Anne Drinkell, Save Our Hospitals Charing Cross and Hammersmith