Thursday, 1 September 2016

H&F council rejects new threat to Charing Cross Hospital: “Our job is to protect the NHS and this plan is about dismantling it”

Charing Cross A&E and other services at risk in draft STP

Hammersmith & Fulham's Labour administration has rejected a new threat from the Conservative government to Charing Cross hospital’s A&E and other key services.

The new danger comes in the so-called “Sustainability and Transformation Plan” (STP) put together by NHS North West London. This is one of 44 STPs across England which the Conservative government has told the NHS and local councils to prepare, and which menace hospital services throughout the country.

H&F and neighbouring Ealing councils have refused to sign the North-West London STP because it threatens Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals by proposing to cut the number of major acute hospitals in the area from nine to five.

Cllr Stephen Cowan and Michael Mansfield QC
Stephen Cowan, leader of H&F council, said: “We condemn the Tory government for drawing up these plans. This is about closing hospitals and getting capital receipts. It’s a cynical rehash of earlier plans and is about the breaking up and selling off of the NHS. It will lead to a loss of vital services and will put lives at risk.”

He added: “Our job is to protect the NHS and this plan is about dismantling it. This document is an affront to the sensibilities of the people of north-west London.”

Julian Bell, Leader of Ealing Council, said: "We have made it abundantly clear that we will campaign until our last breath to save Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals.”

Following government pressure on the NHS, Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals closed their A&E units in 2014, resulting in unprecedented waiting times and missed targets.

Since being elected in May 2014, H&F's Labour administration has been fighting alongside residents to stop the same thing happening at Charing Cross.

Last year, it invited leading barrister Michael Mansfield QC to lead an independent commission with medical experts to examine the government’s plans for Charing Cross hospital. Mr Mansfield concluded that the proposals were “deeply flawed” and “should be halted immediately”.

“We were elected to defend Charing Cross Hospital and its services,” said Ben Coleman, H&F’s Cabinet Member for Resident Satisfaction, “And the plans as they stand at the moment, although they have some good things in them, don't do that and we can’t support them” (see video at 2:07).

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