Thursday, 15 January 2015

Independent Healthcare Commission gets to work as A&E crisis deepens

Charing Cross Hospital
The Daily Mail calls it the worst A&E crisis in ten years and West Londoners are stuck at the centre. It is a timely moment for the independent North West London Healthcare Commission to get to work.

The latest NHS figures confirm that, since the government shut the A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals last September, Imperial College NHS Trust (which runs Charing Cross, St Mary’s, Hammersmith and Queen Charlotte’s & Chelsea hospitals) has consistently missed its target of seeing patients within four hours.

And yet the government refuses to shelve plans to downgrade the A&Es at Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals, which would only make matters worse.

Michael Mansfield QC
In response to a groundswell of concern from local residents, Hammersmith & Fulham's new Labour administration joined with Brent, Ealing and Hounslow councils to ask top barrister Michael Mansfield QC to lead the independent North West London Healthcare Commission.

The Commission has now started work and is assessing the impact on local people from A&E closures to date and from the threatened reduction in services at Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals. Public meetings will be held across West London, with one planned for Hammersmith Town Hall on Saturday 14 March

Misleading taxpayer funded
leaflet from former H&F
Conservative administration
Once upon a time, this would have had cross-party support. Unfortunately, for the past two years, H&F Conservatives have shared Imperial’s desire to sell off most of Charing Cross hospital to property speculators and send emergency patients outside the borough. 

“Cameron’s favourite council” even ran an expensive campaign of taxpayer-funded leaflets misleadingly claiming that the A&E would be “retained” at Charing Cross, despite health bosses admitting that their plans would see most of the hospital site sold and an end to blue light services.

Things changed once Labour took control last May. H&F council now uncompromisingly defends local health services.

According to H&F council leader Stephen Cowan, “The work of the independent Commission, which is free of vested interests, is vital in assessing how local trusts can ensure a safe and sustainable future for our hospital services. I encourage everyone to have their say at the forthcoming public meetings.

The deteriorating state of local A&E services is evidence of just how important this review is for West London.” 

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