Confusion over Hospitals' Future Follows Jeremy Hunt's Announcement

Health Secretary says Charing Cross A&E will remain but in "different shape or size"

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There is confusion over the future of local hospitals after Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt gave the go ahead for the reconfiguration of NHS services on Wednesday October 30.

Mr Hunt confirmed that A & E departments at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals will close. A&Es at Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals will remain but "in a different shape or size".

He did not give any further details about what this means but said he did not intend to "micro-manage" the NHS.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council immediately issued a statement welcoming " Government backing for Charing Cross Hospital to become a world-class elective surgery centre."

The timetable for the opening of this elective, or non-emergency surgery centre is 2017, according to H & F.

The council also added that Jeremy Hunt's announcement means Charing Cross will be retaining a "local" A&E, removing the uncertainty over its future. 

Cllr Nicholas Botterill, H&F Council Leader, said: “Plans to reform health services, announced by the Secretary of State today, are supported by clinicians and by local GPs. What we will now have is a 21st century hospital at Charing Cross continuing to treat the vast majority of our borough residents."

However a press release from the Independent Reconfiguration Panel appeared to show continued doubt about Charing Cross' future, saying: " As part of a staged approach for implementing Shaping a Healthier Future, the proposals for A&E services at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals should proceed as soon as practicable.

" The IRP also states that the future of the proposed local hospitals at Ealing and Charing Cross, and the final decision about what might best be provided from each location as part of Shaping a Healthier Future must be the subject of a specific programme of work led by local commissioners and engaging the public, service users, staff and the relevant local authority.

" The A&E departments at Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals must be sustained until further work to inform a final decision on the future of these two local hospitals has been completed and the alternative services that will provide a safe, high quality urgent emergency care system for local residents are in place."

The Secretary of State's announcement did not mention plans to knock down the current hospital, with the removal of 500 beds, replacing it with a much smaller centre and selling off the remainder of the site to property developers.

Ealing Council Leader Julian Bell, who has campaigned against the proposals, called Mr Hunt's announcement "weasel words" and Ealing and said on his Twitter feed @juliangbell: " I will believe Ealing and Charing Cross A&Es are saved if Jeremy Hunt defines "different size & shape" & that blue light journeys r accepted".

Save Our Hospitals campaigners are holding rallies outside Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals today, October 30 at 5pm.


October 30, 2013