Health Secretary Agrees to Review of NHS Closure Plans

Jeremy Hunt will refer decision to panel if asked by Ealing Council

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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has today, February 26, agreed that he will refer the decisions by NHS North West London on local hospital closures to be reviewed by an independent panel, if asked to do so by Ealing Council.

Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter says the Health Secretary's statement was made in the House of Commons during this morning's Health Questions.

Mr Slaughter says he told the Health Secretary that Hammersmith and Fulham Council are not going to refer the closure of Charing Cross Hospital and three local A & E departments, including Hammersmith Hospital, and asked if he will refer the closure decisions to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

According to Mr Slaughter, Mr Hunt replied that if Ealing Council ask him to, he will.

In Ealing, where Accident and Emergency services are to be closed at Ealing and Central Middlesex Hospitals, the council has already said it will do all it can to fight the NHS plans.

When the closure decision was announced, Councillor Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: " Despite the spin in the last couple of weeks implying hospital services have been saved, the people of this borough will not be hoodwinked.

" Following today’s decision, we are looking at all the options open to us to fight these plans and save our hospitals, including referring it to the secretary of state and challenging it through a judicial review."

The Independent Reconfiguration Panel is the independent expert on NHS service change. The panel was established in 2003 to provide advice to the Secretary of State for Health on contested proposals for health service change in England.

Andy Slaughter says: " I am pleased that the Secretary of State realises how devasting the closures of Charing Cross Hospital as and the other three A&Es in NW London are for my constituents.

" This is the biggest single closure programme in the history of the NHS, and it is right that it go for consideration by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel.

" However, residents of Hammersmith needs to know that this is only happening because of the resolve of Ealing Council. Hammersmith and Fulham Council voted to prevent the review that the Secretary of State promised today.

" This shows how short-sighted and spiteful the actions of Hammersmith and Fulham Council were in supporting the closures and trying to pretend to residents that Charing Cross had been 'saved'.

" Today’s announcement shows that they do not even have the backing of their own Secretary of State for their aggressive and misguided treatment of the borough's hospitals and my constituents."


February 26, 2013