Tuesday, 9 December 2014

NHS


Shortly after I revealed the £120,000 junket to look at  US healthcare for 23 local NHS bosses, Tracy Batten, Chief Executive of struggling Imperial Trust, was forced to withdraw from the NHS-funded trip. An hour after the Standard reported her defence of the jolly during an A&E crisis, she had a change of heart.  Not so her 22 colleagues.  They are back today. They include some of the most senior figures in London’s NHS.

Meanwhile, in the Commons I asked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt if he would confirm the Guardian story that he was about to u-turn on the plan to  downgrade most A&E departments in England, including Charing Cross – not because of criticism from the College of Emergency Medicine and Care Quality Commission but because it was ‘political suicide’.  Hunt denied the report: closures and demolition would go ahead as planned. 

According to reports, ambulance crews now have to get permission before taking 999 patients to Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow.  When they are diverted to other hospitals that puts further pressure on an already burdened system. Last week I was told two other west London hospitals also had to divert ambulances for a time. With waiting times already the worst in the country this situation is unsustainable and yet the plans for further closures are still going ahead.

Two weeks after I wrote to NHS England demanding a full inquiry into the A&E crisis in west London I have heard nothing.  So I was pleased this week  that four west London boroughs including Hammersmith & Fulham have launched their own independent inquiry, chaired by one of England’s leading QCs Michael Mansfield. 

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