Published: 29 September 2014
Updated: 11:30, 29 September 2014
A London NHS trust has admitted it is short of 100 beds as it struggles to cope with an influx of patients after closing one of its A&E departments.
Northwick Park Hospital in Harrow is admitting up to 138 patients a day — taking up more than a quarter of beds on its entire site — following the axing of the casualty unit at Central Middlesex in Park Royal.
David McVittie, chief executive of The North West London Hospitals NHS trust, which runs both sites, said the bed shortage would last until a 56-bed temporary prefab unit opens next autumn. He told campaigners: “You are right to be concerned.”
Brent North Labour MP Barry Gardiner criticised the trust for closing the A&E at Central Middlesex before a new £21 million casualty department opens at Northwick Park in November. He said: “I’m really angry. This is exactly what I said two years ago.
“They should have realised it was complete folly to close an A&E at Central Middlesex that the Care Quality Commission has just rated as good, and to put an extra strain and burden on an A&E at Northwick Park the CQC has said is inadequate and needs improving.”
Hospital bosses say casualty attendances at Northwick Park began peaking in mid-August, and were exacerbated by the September 10 closure at Central Middlesex. Last week, the proportion of casualty patients seen within four hours at Northwick Park fell to 72.8 per cent — the NHS target is 95 per cent. A total of 130 patients waited between four and 12 hours.
Despite a 20-bed ward opening to ease the pressure, trust deputy chief executive Chris Pockington said Northwick Park remains “80 to 100” beds short — raising concerns about its ability to cope with winter. Mr McVittie, who will quit as trust chief executive next year, told its board: “As we sit here today, you would be right to be concerned about some of these bed projections.”
Trust bosses say the problem has been caused by an influx of older patients, delays in discharging people from hospital into social care, and more patients arriving by ambulance. London Ambulance Service said it made 2,921 trips to Northwick Park between August 23 and September 23 — 129 more than the same period last year.