Shortly after I revealed the £120,000 junket to look at US healthcare for 23 local NHS bosses, Tracy Batten, Chief Executive of struggling Imperial Trust, was forced to withdraw from the NHS-funded trip. An hour after the Standard reported her defence of the jolly during an A&E crisis, she had a change of heart. Not so her 22 colleagues. They are back today. They include some of the most senior figures in London’s NHS.
Meanwhile, in the Commons I asked Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt if he would confirm the Guardian story that he was about to u-turn on the plan to downgrade most A&E departments in England, including Charing Cross – not because of criticism from the College of Emergency Medicine and Care Quality Commission but because it was ‘political suicide’. Hunt denied the report: closures and demolition would go ahead as planned.
Two weeks after I wrote to NHS England demanding a full inquiry into the A&E crisis in west London I have heard nothing. So I was pleased this week that four west London boroughs including Hammersmith & Fulham have launched their own independent inquiry, chaired by one of England’s leading QCs Michael Mansfield.