Sunday, 28 February 2016

Renewed appeal to save A&E as usage increases

A SHARP rise in the number of people visiting the accident and emergency department at Charing Cross Hospital has sparked renewed calls to save the unit from closure.
Figures showing a “staggering” 13 per cent increase in ‘type 1’ A&E attendances – the most serious cases – were revealed in a recent report on winter pressures.
Overall more than 60,000 patients used the hospital’s accident and emergency department between April and December last year.
The findings were included in a report presented to local councillors by the Imperial College NHS Trust, which manages the hospital.
The spike in attendances has led to fresh calls for the North West London Clinical Commissioning Group to halt its ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ programme.
A&E units have already been closed at Hammersmith Hospital and Central Middlesex Hospital, and critics fear that Charing Cross could also lose its ‘blue light’ services under the plans.
Councillor Stephen Cowan, the Leader of Hammersmith and Fulham council, said: “This new NHS report shows that the situation is actually worse than we thought. The number of people using Charing Cross A&E continues to soar, with ambulance crews increasingly choosing to bring patients to Charing Cross in emergencies, while strains on other emergency and urgent care units are also increasing.
“In this pressure-cooker environment, it would be extraordinary to close the A&E at Charing Cross when it is more in demand than ever.”
The report revealed that the number of major trauma ‘type 1’ attendances rose from 25,925 between April and December 2014 to 29,318 for the same period last year – a jump of 13.1 per cent.
Overall A&E attendances at Charing Cross, including minor injuries, rose by 3.6 per cent from 58,017 to 60,095.
The findings also show that the trust fell short of achieving its target waiting times in eight of the nine months between April and December.
The proportion of patients assessed, treated and discharged within four hours slipped to 88 per cent in December, well below the national standard of 95 per cent.
Jim Grealy, from the Save Our Hospitals campaign, warned that downgrading the A&E unit would create longer travel and waiting times for patients who may be unsure where to go for treatment.
“Asking people without medical training to self-diagnose cannot be good for health. Some will be left wondering: where do I go for help?” he said.
“Basic demands of urgent care are not being met as things stand so if they close any more hospital facilities additional strain will be put on St Mary’s Hospital.
“Closing one will have an immediate impact on all others. They need to keep all the A&E spaces they have got.”
A spokeswoman for the CCG insisted that an A&E department would remain at Charing Cross, although it may be in a “different shape and form”.
She added: “The Shaping a Healthier Future programme has already delivered an additional 59,560 GP appointments a year in the evening and at weekends for the residents of Hammersmith and Fulham.
“Further investment in 2015/16 will see new and improved community care with more services closer to patients’ homes, enabling better management of long-term conditions, keeping people well for longer and preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.”
Hammersmith and Fulham council has written to the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt MP, urging him to step in and scrap the plans.
It follows the publication of a report by the Independent Healthcare Commission, chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, which concluded that the programme was “deeply flawed”.
Monday, 22 February 2016 By Jack Dixon in Local People

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