|Ealing To Fight Hospital Closure Plans|
Decision may be referred on to a judicial review
As has been widely leaked and despite a massive campaign of support the NHS has decided to close four A&E departments in the area and to downgrade other hospital services.
The controversial plans were approved at a NHS board meeting in central London today (19 February), despite fierce opposition by doctors, local people and the council.
The hospitals losing their A&E departments (Ealing, Central Middlesex, Charing Cross and Hammersmith) will only have urgent care centres, meaning hundreds of patients with life-threating illnesses and injuries will be forced to travel further for emergency care.
The decision will see emergency health service for 1.9 million Londoners almost halved, with only five major hospitals remaining, including, Chelsea and Westminster, Hillingdon, Northwick Park, St Mary's and West Middlesex.
Ahead of the meeting, NHS bosses announced alternative proposals for Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals that promises more investment in the sites for primary care but admitted that this additional funding would need to be recouped from unidentified savings. The revised plans also confirmed some services that were not in the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ consultation will be based at these two hospitals.
The NHS’s decision will be reviewed by Ealing Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee on 4 March. Scrutiny councillors might then vote to refer the plans to the secretary of state for health who would then order an independent panel investigation before making a decision.
Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: “Despite the spin in the last couple of weeks implying hospital services have been saved, the people of this borough will not be hoodwinked.
“If you can’t be taken to hospital in a blue light ambulance then there is no emergency service and if you can’t have a baby on-site then it doesn’t have a maternity unit.
“These 11th-hour concessions are simply not good enough. We are worried about the ability of the remaining hospitals to cope with the extra demand, the scale and speed of these plans and if they are safe or in the best interests of local people.
Following today’s announcement from NHS NW London Dr Onkar Sahota, London Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon and Chair of the Save Our Hospitals Ealing campaign said:
“This decision is not a surprise, but it is a travesty. The people who use these critical health services have had their opinion completely ignored. With A&E admissions consistently rising by about 3% a year it is ridiculous to start closing major hospitals in places with dense populations such as Ealing, which will be reduced to little more than a polyclinic.
We will continue to fight to save our hospital and will pursue every available option, including referring this to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel and Judicial Review.”
Ealing Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman, Councillor Nigel Bakhai, said: “This is a body blow to the future of healthcare in Ealing. It is unthinkable that there should be no A&E in a borough the size of Ealing with all the health needs that we have in the area.
'' As far as Ealing Lib Dems are concerned, nothing has changed by this week’s decision and the fight goes on to save local hospital services at Ealing and across North West London. For the sake of the people of Ealing and future generations that will live in the borough, we cannot allow this to happen.''
19th Fenruary 2013