Dear Mr McVittie,
I am sure you were as disappointed (almost) as I was to see the A&E statistics from Unify2 this morning. It came as no surprise to me that the newly-merged Trust was languishing near the bottom of the England league table; but I was appalled to see that it ranked bottom of all of them for Type-1 waits over 4 hours.
Despite your assertion, and Dr Spencer's, that this is just because of 'peaks' and 'fluctuations', and nothing to do with the premature closures of 2 A&Es in the Sector ('earlier than we had originally planned' says Dr Spencer) with no alternative provision in place or with the slashing of 1,000 acute beds across NW London, it is clear that there is nowhere for Type-1 admissions to go; so they are backing up in A&E.
Day Case operations are also being cancelled at unprecedented rates, though I do not know whether they are still at the disgraceful level of 22 in one week for 'no beds' at Ealing last month. (The week, in fact, after Dr Spencer wrote me his 'no crisis' e-mail.) It may be time for another FoI request. I hear that critical beds are also in desperate shortage, with Consultants ringing from hospital to hospital to find accommodation for seriously ill patients.
If the NW London Sector were an 'Area Team' in its own right – which is not unreasonable as it would be 6th busiest for overall A&E attendances out of 25 [or 26] in England and 11th for Type-1 – it would be the worst Area in the country for both Type-1s and overall 4-hour waits. It is comfortably worse than the London average at 82.0% Type-1 and 91.9% overall compared with 88.4% and 95.8%. Just to remind you, LNW Healthcare NHS Trust is the major contributor to this NW London misery at 67.8% and 86.6%. London as a whole meets the 95% target but NW London fails.
In short, 2 years in to Shaping a 'Healthier' Future, NW London has become the worst area in the country for A&E services, with its reduced resources. And the overload on the remaining A&Es is having a devastating effect not only on A&E waits but also on planned surgery.
The figures are published and undeniable and I, possibly uniquely, have been following the trend for two months now. And I defy anybody to refute my analysis of the reasons behind this sorry history.
I had naively thought that Sa'H'F would contrive a managed decline into mediocrity, not this madcap rush into chaos. The medics are working extremely hard, at Northwick Park no less than anywhere else. But it is long past time for some serious revision in the shadowy empyrean represented by the upper levels of the NHS, before the deaths begin.