On Thursday night Imperial Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s Hospitals, published details of their plans for the three sites. It amounts to the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS.
The decision will be approved by the Imperial Board when they meet at at Hammersmith Hospital on . This is a public meeting – come along to have your say on our local NHS.
• Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es will close on 10 September. 22,000 Hammersmith patients a year will be told to attend St Mary’s Paddington despite fears this will ‘compromise performance’
• Plans to demolish Charing Cross Hospital, sell 55% of site and reduce space by more than 75%
• Inpatient beds at Charing Cross would reduce from 360 to just 24. Charing Cross would become a ‘local hospital’ providing GP and treatment services and day surgery
• A&E services would ‘move out’ of Charing Cross, contrary to a personal assurance from the Secretary of State that it would ‘continue to offer an A&E service’
• All major emergency services to go from Charing Cross including neurosurgery, stroke, specialist medicine, A&E, acute surgery, urology, complex ENT and breast.
• Over the three main Imperial sites there would be a net loss of 170 beds
• Plans to cut £207m from the budget in next five years, on top of £127m cut in last three. One third of turnover of £979m
• 45% of St Mary’s Paddington site and all of Western Eye Hospital also for sale. Site disposals to raise total of £270m
• There will be no public consultation on the plans for Charing Cross and St Mary’s
• Public information on the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&E has not started, six weeks before closure, but £300,000 has been paid to PR consultants, including £55,000 to M&C Saatchi
• Leaflets to be distributed in west London in August say the A&Es are ‘changing’ not closing
Now we have the final proposals and they are worse than we were recently led to believe. Charing Cross will close as a major hospital. It will be reduced to a primary care centre with some day surgery and treatment services. This is simply unacceptable to many west Londoners and we are going to keep fighting to save Charing Cross which has been a landmark London hospital for almost 200 years.
More than half the Charing Cross site will be sold, the existing hospital demolished and new building will provide less than quarter of the current floor space. All consultant emergency services will close or go elsewhere. The present 360 inpatient beds will fall to just 24. The biggest betrayal is the loss of the A&E. Far from continuing ‘to offer an A&E service’ as Hunt promised, Imperial confirm that A&E will ‘move out’ of Charing Cross under their plans leaving ‘an emergency service appropriate for a local hospital’. This means an urgent care centre staffed by GPs and nurses.
The immediate crisis is the closure of the two A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex. Imperial admit that there is a risk that this will ‘compromise performance against the 4 hour waiting time standard’. A&Es are already at capacity and the thought that two will close immediately and another two – Charing Cross and Ealing – within the next few years is grotesque. Development is at an all-time high with the population expected to grow by 10% in the next ten years.
22,000 people attend Hammersmith A&E every year, mainly from White City, East Acton and North Kensington, some of the poorest areas of London with the worst health outcomes. Now they must either put up with a second-class service or make the difficult journey to St Mary’s Paddington where A&E waiting times already breach the four hour standard.
To suggest that services are ‘changing’ rather than closing is misleading and dangerous. This closure programme, the biggest in NHS history, has been subject to spin and concealment by the local NHS and the Government throughout. The A&E closures at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals were announced the day after the local elections.
Despite a £300,000 PR spend, two months later no publicity has been undertaken. Now my constituents are being insulted by disingenuous nonsense about ‘changing’ and ‘transforming’ when the services are simply being shut down. The result is people will continue to go to Hammersmith Hospital after believing there is an A&E on site, with the possible tragic consequences we have seen at Chase Farm.
With a further £207m to save from their budget over the next five years on top of £127m saved in the past three these are cost-driven decisions and the blame for them lies with the Coalition Government and the Health Secretary.
The destruction of the NHS in Hammersmith & Fulham is the most serious challenge facing us. Please pass this on to your family, friends and neighbours and please let me know your views so I can represent them locally and in Parliament. The Save our Hospitals campaign will continue to fight – why not join them? I believe we can make the Government – or if not this one the next – think again about the future of Charing Cross.
Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith