Hospital Closures in Ealing, Hammersmith, Central Middlesex and Charing Cross Hospitals

Scope of Emergency Services

Emergency Services (Accident and Emergency or as they are popularly known, A&E Departments) exist to save human life in dire and urgent circumstances where every second counts. In 2006/7 6.3 million patients were treated in A&E departments of England alone. Many of these patients have complicated medical or traumatic conditions that require expert knowledge, skill and judgement. Some are so critically ill or so gravely injured that proper care can literally make the difference between life and death. For most patients, their crisis may not be a matter of life or death, but it is no less significant to them and their family.

In the UK, emergency medical responders/technicians (located mainly in major cities) and paramedics are often the first medical professionals to come in to contact with patients in an emergency. They carry a unique and portable set of skills, while at the other end of the ambulance ride are highly specialised A&E units with an sophisticated infrastructure which includes specialist nurses, highly trained doctors, an access to advance clinical investigations panels and critical life support units. The most important link between these two components of the emergency services is the time commonly referred as ‘golden hour’ by the paramedics. The closure of four A&E departments out of nine in the West London would jeopardise this fundamental principle of emergency care. After calling the emergency services, patients currently wait at least 15 minutes, and in most cases more – waiting times of half an hour are common. After these closures, the time between making the emergency call and arriving at hospital, will average one hour. It will be substantially more during rush hours, particularly when the emergency is being transferred to the hospitals such as Northwick Park, Chelsea and Westminster or St Mary’s Paddington. Therefore, the cumulative time from the onset of an acute event (an emergency) to an A&E care facility will certainly hit an unacceptable level.

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