middlesex hospial protest
THE battle to save an accident and emergency department in Brent was taken to the steps of Downing Street.
Campaigners from the borough joined the Save Hammersmith and Fulham Hospitals and Ealing Save Our Services groups, as well as MPs and councillors, to hand in an 80,000-strong petition to the government on Tuesday.
It is the latest protest against NHS North West London’s plans to close four A&E departments at Central Middlesex Hospital in Park Royal, Charing Cross, Hammersmith, and Ealing, as part of a streamlining of services under its Shaping a Healthier Future consultation.
The move has received criticism from patients and staff, including those concerned about how it will impact upon emergency services at Northwick Park Hospital in Watford Road.
Brent Fightback campaigner Sarah Cox, from Harlesden, said several people from the borough took along banners and a petition of more than 2,000 signatures was added to the total.
She said: “I think 80,000 names is absolutely wonderful. I don’t think NHS North West London has made its case properly and taken all the factors into consideration.
“The closures of the A&Es will take the services away from the areas of greatest need.”
Alongside the petition, H&F campaign chairman, Carlo Nero, and Ealing campaign leader, Colin Standfield, penned a joint letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, calling for the plans to be thrown out.
They wrote: “Signed by 80,000 residents from the boroughs of Ealing, Brent and Hammersmith and Fulham, our petition comes in response to a flawed consultation exercise conducted by NHS North West London over the summer and amid mounting concerns from GPs who will be responsible for running the Urgent Care Centres that will replace the axed emergency departments.
“Our hope is that by presenting our petition to Downing Street today, we can stop this madness before it is too late and convince the secretary of state to send the commissioners back to the drawing board. If the closure of the A&Es at the four non-preferred sites is allowed to go ahead, the remaining A&Es will have to cater to 395,000 people each, 52 per cent more than the current national average.”
A spokesman for the trust said: “This programme will save hundreds of lives and the value of that is incalculable. We strongly defend this expenditure, clinicians all over north west London have said they believe it is the right way to develop better care, and they strongly believe it is in the best interests of their patients.”
The ‘interim’ closure of Central Middlesex’s A&E department at night, implemented in November 2011 due to a shortage of doctors, was quietly extended for another year by the trust’s board in September because a recruitment drive has failed to solve the problem.
The department will continue to be staffed between 8am and 7pm, with ambulances diverted to other hospitals outside those times, although the hospital’s GP-led urgent care centre is still open 24 hours.