Birthplace: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George on the steps of the Lindo wing (Picture: Jeremy Selwyn)
Published: 12 August 2014
Updated: 11:01, 12 August
The NHS trust where Prince George was born is planning to double its income from private patients while slashing the number of NHS beds.
Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust’s plans are part of a controversial shake-up of care at its three main hospitals. It hopes to double its £39 million annual private income, including at the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital where the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth last July.
Under the five-year plan the number of inpatient beds at Charing Cross will be slashed from 360 to 24. It will be left with 150 beds in total — including 86 for day cases and 40 for GP referrals.
The number of inpatient beds at Imperial is to fall from 1,167 to 958 under changes designed to treat more people as outpatients or in day surgery.
Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter described the plans as “another slap in the face for everyday west Londoners”. They follow confirmation that the accident and emergency departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals will close on September 10.
Mr Slaughter said: “Despite [Imperial’s] claims that these closures are nothing to do with money, here we see in their own board report that Imperial are seeking to line their pockets by doubling private services — while at the same time cutting beds.”
The new strategy follows GP-led changes in north-west London to prioritise an increasingly elderly population with epidemic levels of diabetes and heart disease.
An Imperial spokeswoman said the income generated from private patients would help to pay for its NHS services. She said greater efforts would be made to fill under-utilised private beds, but extra investment would also be required.
In addition to the Lindo wing, where a planned Caesarean birth costs £15,000, Imperial also has private beds at the Sainsbury wing at Hammersmith hospital and on the 15th floor at Charing Cross.
The changes at Charing Cross will see it become a “new type of hospital”, where specialist care is provided on a day-care basis.
Its stroke unit — where journalist Andrew Marr was treated — and all acute surgery will be moved to St Mary’s and its A&E will be downgraded.
About 55 per cent of the Charing Cross site and 45 per cent of the St Mary’s site will be sold to help fund the redevelopment.
An Imperial spokeswoman said: “Our private beds are not currently at full capacity and the trust is aiming to increase its income by using existing private beds and facilities. This would always be done in a way which complements, never at the expense of, our NHS services for patients.”