The Care Quality Commission conducted an inspection of Chelsea and Westminster hospital in July 2014, i.e. before the closures of Central Midd and Hammersmith A&Es. In an inspection generally very positive about C&W, the A&E was considered as "requiring improvement." Report extracts include:-
“There had been an increase in demand for services, and the capacity in some areas of the trust, such as A&E, experienced difficulties in meeting this additional demand. Staff reported that a contributing factor to this increase was due to the local reconfiguration of services across London.”“Medical staffing levels did not meet national recommended standards in A&E.”“Patient care in A&E was good but the service was under increasing pressure and attendances were increasing, which was causing delays in assessment and treatment.”
Specific areas of risk were not managed appropriately: the timings for ambulance handover; triage and assessment of patients in A&E and consultant sign-off when they left the department.”
“Staff in A&E told us that there was low morale.”
The assessments of the needs of service users were not always undertaken in a timely fashion either when arriving by ambulance or attending on foot in the A&E. The lack of space in the A&E department compared to the number of patients admitted meant that patients often received care and treatment in environments that were not suitable and where it was difficult to appropriately monitor their condition Patients in A&E were, at times, being treated in the corridors of the A&E and their privacy and dignity was not maintained
New NHS boss Simon Stevens made headlines today presenting NHS England's latest 5-year plan. The plan is clearly based in part on the experiments on North West Londoners under the banner of "Shaping a Healthier Future". So we've become accustomed to promises of more care in the community, integrated care, acute specialisms - aspirations in themselves as uncontroversial as apple pie.
You highlight the pressures that closing A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals put on surrounding emergency departments.
God help us if plans to close Charing Cross A&E go ahead. Imperial NHS Trust’s management seems in chaos, with leaked internal memos detailing cuts in acute beds and a mounting deficit. It has been unable to provide a clear description of what future “emergency” care at these sites would look like. A notice on the back door at Hammersmith still advises parents to take sick kids to the now-closed Central Middlesex A&E despite a £300,000 communications campaign.
Less discussed is the impact these closures have on local heath services that are meant to provide alternatives to A&E. GPs are facing pressure to manage more complex conditions in the home despite less funding and a greater workload; the number of district nurses in London is at an all-time low; social services budgets are being cut at precisely the time that vulnerable patients should be having more input to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.
There are local initiatives doing good work but they are a drop in the ocean given the needs of the population covered by Hammersmith and Central Middlesex, which has one of the lowest life expectancies in London.
We ask North West London NHS for a moratorium on closures until they consult on plans for change based on clinical need, not budget cuts.
Anne Drinkell, Save Our Hospitals Charing Cross and Hammersmith
It was a busy start to the first MIPIM property developers' conference to be held in London. Protesters from a wide variety of social housing groups, anti-Earls Court redevelopment and, of course, Save Our Hospitals assembled in front of the main entrance from 9am. We were told after 10.30 that Boris Johnson had bicycled over to the exhibition hall and had come in by a back door.
At times very squashed on the pavement and closely watched by the police, demonstrators carried long banners and speakers used a loud hailer. After an attempt by a protester to force an entrance the police decided to lock down the entrance.
Stephen Cowan, leader of Hammersmith Council and Andy Slaughter, MP were both there, and both spoke to the crowd and gave interviews to BBC and other news media.
Save Our Hospitals representatives, including some with full patient "warpaint" kindly supplied by Caroline Jupp, were interviewed by BBC News, ITV and the Guardian. The Guardian and the Evening Standard both covered it on line.
We enjoyed ourselves at this colourful and effective protest, which broke up at about 11.30.
And see this piece on Londonlive:
Merril Hammer, Chair of Save Our Hospitals, said:
While our local council is represented inside this building, it is there with a different aim from most exhibitors. They have placards saying things like "Homes for residents, not overseas investors", "Tackling London's affordable housing crisis", "Putting residents first" and, significantly for our campaign, "Save Charing Cross hospital". How has this happened?
Prior to the local elections on 22nd May this year there was a Tory council, a Tory council which had decided to go along with cuts and closures to our two local hospitals - not just any Tory council but David Cameron's favourite local council - the "Tory Flagship Borough". On 23rd May that flagship was sunk - and sunk largely by our Save Our Hospitals campaign. The hole amidships was the result of a non-party political campaign where we asked local people to vote for any parties which supported us in our campaign to stop the closures to our local hospitals. We were successful - with an 8% swing away from the Tories and 11 seats going to Labour. The previous Tory administration had committed to the MIPIM fair - unable to withdraw, the new administration has taken this opportunity to use the stall to publicize our campaign and local issues - and we commend them for this!
But why is a property fair of such concern to a Save Our Hospitals campaign?
Well, inside Olympia developers are holding an entire session on "Exploring healthcare - opportunities for the property industry"! So now our healthcare is an "opportunity" for rapacious developers!! But you can see why this might be the case. Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, responsible for 5 hospitals in west London, plans to sell off 55% of the Charing Cross site, 45% of St Mary's and the entire Western Eye hospital to raise a grossly undervalued £270M. That is the opportunity for the property industry!
Selling off our hospital land will affect those most deprived:
- the homeless depend on A&Es for healthcare - in this area 4 of 9 A&Es are to close - indeed 2 have already done so;
- access for the disabled, for parents with children and for the elderly - frail or otherwise - will become more difficult as they have to take longer and more complex journeys for treatment.
Selling off our hospital land will affect local health workers:
- building luxury apartments will push up local property prices and rents when already key medical staff, including junior doctors and nurses, are leaving London because they cannot afford to live here;
- lower paid staff just can't afford to live here - but increasingly also cannot afford to travel from outer areas to work in inner London.
When NHS property has been sold off, it's gone for good!
Reducing hospital beds when there is high population growth with more development already planned, is not good for local people - we need public health facilities. ONLY PROPERTY DEVELOPERS WILL GAIN FROM THESE SALES.
Please check our website - google Save Our Hospitals.
Public health provision is surely more important than developers' profits.