United Council Hits Out at Plans to 'Decimate' Health Service

Calls on residents and workers in Ealing to sign petition

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United they stand - Cllr David Millican (Con) Cllr Julian Bell (Lab) Cllr Gary Malcolm (Lib-Dem)

Closure of Local A&Es Proposed by NHS

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Councillors from across the political spectrum are opposing NHS plans that could see the closure of Ealing's only Accident and Emergency (A&E) and intensive care units, as well as hospital maternity and paediatric services.

Under the plans Ealing Hospital would be downgraded to a ‘local hospital’, stripping it of nine of the 11 major types of service currently provided on-site*.

The proposals are part of a major restructure of NHS services in North West London which, if agreed, would see almost half of the hospitals in the region suffering a similar fate. If the plans get approved the council is concerned that residents would have to travel miles to reach the nearest major hospital for vital services.

The NHS has published an 890-page report on the proposed restructure. Under its preferred option Charing Cross Hospital would also be downgraded to a local hospital, losing the same services as Ealing. Central Middlesex Hospital, which has already had its A&E unit reduced to a daytime only service, would see the unit close permanently and it would also lose its intensive care unit.

The council is calling on anyone who lives or works in the borough to sign its petition against the plans and to respond to the NHS consultation, which is expected to begin next week (2 July). The council’s campaign e-petition can be found at www.ealing.gov.uk/petitions

Council Leader Cllr Julian Bell said: “Across the political spectrum we are opposed to these plans. The health services for nearly two million Londoners would be affected by these proposals and, in Ealing alone, we have a population that is significantly larger than many UK cities. Nobody in their right mind can think that it’s right that a population of more than 320,000 doesn’t have a major hospital to provide essential services like A&E, intensive care, maternity and paediatrics.

“Ealing is a very busy hospital and all those thousands of patients will have to be treated somewhere. I’m sure all those who live close to other hospitals will be wondering what impact that will have on the facilities and waiting times where they are.”

Councillor David Millican, leader of the Conservative group on the council, said: “The NHS claims that under blue light conditions people will still be able to get to A&E quickly, but you have to wonder what the effect will be on all those with long term chronic conditions who have to make their own way to hospital, week in and week out for treatment. We hope people will get behind the council’s campaign and make sure they sign the petition and respond to the NHS consultation.”

Councillor Gary Malcolm, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the council, said: “These plans will not only affect Ealing residents, but also those who work in the borough or spend their spare time here. Everyone wants the reassurance that they are never too far from help if the worst happens but, if these plans get the go ahead, for much of North West London that will no longer be true.”

The NHS report ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ can be downloaded at www.northwestlondon.nhs.uk/shapingahealthierfuture.

The consultation is expected to begin on Monday 2 July and run until the beginning of October.

* Services at Ealing Hospital that will no longer be provided if the preferred option A is agreed include: A&E, emergency surgery, non elective medicine, non elective surgery, complex elective surgery, intensive care, inpatient paediatrics, obstetrics and maternity unit.

June 28 2012