In response to the report, Ealing Council will write to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to raise concerns over the conclusions made by the chief inspector of hospitals.
Councillor Hitesh Tailor with Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell at a Save our Hospitals demonstration
A report released today (October 28) has shown that services at a west London hospital are ‘dangerously’ overstretched.
In response to the report Ealing Council will write to the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP to raise concerns over the conclusions made by the chief inspector of hospitals.
The inspection carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) of services at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust found an increased demand for services at the trust, including in its accident and emergency (A&E) service.
It also found that the A&E did not have the recommended levels of medical staff working there and that this service was ‘experiencing difficulties’ in meeting the extra demand.
Hospital staff told inspectors they believed the reconfiguration of services across London had contributed to the increase in demand.
The inspectors said they had no evidence to support this view.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council said: “This is the second report in as many months where the chief inspector of hospitals has highlighted concerns about the remaining A&E services in our area. Since the plans to shut A&Es were announced, I have expressed concerns about the ability of the remaining A&E services to cope with extra demand in patient numbers and this second report confirms my fears.
“I will now be writing to the secretary of state for health to reiterate the very real concerns that this council has about the NHS’s plans for accident and emergency services in this area and ask that he assures us that patient safety is not put in jeopardy by further reconfiguration. The way things stand at the moment our feelings are that the services are dangerously overstretched.”
On September 10, two A&E services in the region, at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals, were closed as part of the NHS’s plans to rationalise services across north-west London. This meant that people who previously used A&E services at these hospitals now have to use services at the remaining hospitals in the region, including Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
Inspectors rated accident and emergency, medical care, surgery, children’s care, end-of-life care and outpatient services at the Chelsea and Westminster as ‘requires improvement’. Critical care and maternity and family planning were rated as ‘good’. CQC rated the hospital as ‘requires improvement’ overall.
In August, the CQC released a report about services provided by North West London Hospitals NHS Trust. It identified a number of areas where Northwick Park Hospital needed to improve including ensuring there were enough staff to deal with A&E patients.
It also wanted the trust to put in place better systems to assess and monitor the quality of A&E services to make sure they were safe and could be benchmarked against national standards.
In addition to the closure of A&E services at Central Middlesex and Hammersmith Hospitals the NHS intends to downgrade A&E services at Ealing Hospital and Charing Cross Hospital – leaving the area with five major hospitals with fully-functioning A&Es.
Councillor Hitesh Tailor, cabinet member for adults, health and wellbeing, said: “This report tells us that people who need to be seen quickly are waiting longer to be assessed and treated and that there aren’t enough medical staff working in A&E.
“This is unacceptable and raises serious concerns about the NHS’s plan to reduce services further. On reading this latest report, I am deeply concerned about the ability of A&E services to cope as we enter the winter period, when demand normally increases.”
A spokeswoman from Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Foundation Trust said: "Increased attendances is something being seen at many A&E departments. We have a strong historic A&E performance having been the best performing trust two years in a row. Our A&E performance against the four hour target in October is the best in North West London and so far this year is 96.6%, compared to the national target of 95%.
"We are investing £10m to refurbish and extend our Emergency Department. This will mean more space, more staff and state of the art equipment to treat patients in an emergency. Work on the new unit is underway and is due to open summer 2016."