There’s a public meeting on Wednesday evening about the changes planned for Charing Cross Hospital. In the past week I have received two press releases on what this will mean for us all. Such is the polarisation of politics in this country that the two versions from the (Labour controlled) Hammersmith & Fulham council and the Conservative candidate for the local elections in Chiswick Homefields ward Patrick Barr, who is an Accident and Emergency Nurse who has worked at Charing Cross Hospital, are completely at odds. It’s hard to screen out the party political tub thumping and ascertain an objective truth, but make of them what you will.
Press release 1: Public meeting called for 28 February to defend Charing Cross Hospital against continuing threat. 7.30pm on Wednesday 28 February at Hammersmith Town Hall
Hammersmith & Fulham Council is holding a public meeting to defend Charing Cross Hospital against continuing plans to downgrade services. “The plan to bulldoze Charing Cross Hospital and replace it with a small clinic remains,” said Cllr Stephen Cowan, Leader of Hammersmith & Fulham Council, who will be speaking at the event. “We believe we can win the fight to save the hospital, but we still need residents’ support.”
In 2013, the Shaping a Healthier Future plan was signed off by the Secretary of State. It is gradually being implemented across north west London. It includes a plan to:
- Demolish the current Charing Cross Hospital and sell off most of the site
- Replace the current Charing Cross Hospital with a series of clinics on a site no more than 13% the size of the current hospital
- Rebrand these clinics as a ‘local hospital’
- Replace the current A&E with an urgent care clinic
- Lose more than 300, and possibly all, of the acute care beds.
“Make no mistake – we view this as the closure of Charing Cross Hospital as it is now”, added Cllr Cowan. “Health chiefs argue that by rebranding what would be a series of clinics as a ‘local hospital’ they’re simply ‘transforming’ it. This is the basis of their bizarre claim that there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross Hospital.”
Press release 2: Chiswick Conservatives welcome investment for Charing Cross Hospital
Chiswick Conservatives have welcomed the recent multi-million pound investment in Charing Cross Hospital that will benefit Chiswick residents who are reliant on the hospital’s services. They have also condemned the Labour Party for its continued scaremongering that the hospital is to close.
“It is important that residents know the facts about Charing Cross and that the hospital is very much thriving.” said Patrick Barr. “Charing Cross hospital recently announced that over the past 18 months some of the largest ever investment has taken place in the hospital… £6 million has been spent on improvements, to include a new medical assessment unit and a further £8 million on replacing imaging equipment and installing state of the art equipment. This is to meet the significant rise in the need for emergency services within the hospital…“The hospital is currently working on a further multimillion pound refurbishment and an expansion of Accident and Emergency to begin early this year.“
Patrick says he believes there will be “no decline in services” at the hospital. “Emergency attendances have grown by 16 per cent between 2015 and 2017; this figure then rose by a further 4.5 per cent in 2017. Given this trend there are no plans to reduce the number of beds available”.
“I welcome the extra investment the hospital has received and the Government’s commitment to the NHS. This extra funding will support Charing Cross Hospital in providing excellent patient care for local residents… Labour needs to recognise all this and stop frightening local residents with their claims of closure of this excellent NHS hospital.”
Independent Healthcare Commission recommends halting the reforms
Meawnwhile the Independent Healthcare Commission for Northwest London, chaired by the eminent QC Michael Mansfield, concluded in 2015 that the reforms are “deeply flawed”, and that “As a consequence there is no realistic prospect of achieving good quality accessible healthcare for all”.
“Shaping a Healthier Future, a project of unprecedented size and scope, aimed at achieving a root and branch reconfiguration of all health services across eight diverse, densely populated London boroughs.
“There is no completed, up-to-date business plan in place that sets out the case for delivering the Shaping a Healthier Future (SaHF) programme, demonstrating that the programme is affordable and deliverable. There was limited and inadequate public consultation on the SaHF proposals and those proposals themselves did not provide an accurate view of the costs and risks to the people affected. NHS facilities, delivering important public healthcare services, have been closed without adequate alternative provision being put in place. The original business case seriously underestimated the increasing size of the population in North West London and fails to address the increasing need for services.
The Commission concluded that “any further implementation is likely to exacerbate a deteriorating situation and should be halted immediately until the measures we recommend are carried out”.