Quarter of West London NHS Beds Face The Axe

HEALTH EMERGENCY

The Health Watchdog

 www.healthemergency.org.uk

PRESS RELEASE

October 23 2012 IMMEDIATE

Hidden plans revealed to axe a quarter of West London hospital beds

Fresh doubts are being raised by public health experts over the viability and impact on patients of controversial plans for hospital services in North West London, as shock plans left out of the publicised proposals aim to axe almost 1000 hospital beds by 2015. 

NHS North West London has just completed a consultation on its document “Shaping a Healthier Future”, which proposes the closure of four A&E units – in Ealing, Charing Cross, Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals, and a large scale diversion of patients away from hospital inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Opponents of the scheme have up to now focused on the lack of any detailed proposals on what services would replace the axed hospital care (the plan hopes to reduce hospital admissions by 158,000 a year – 148,000 emergencies and 10,000 elective cases – and outpatient attendances by 600,000 a year), the knock-on impact which is likely to lead to the closure of Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals, and ‘hidden’ plans in other NHS NW London documents to axe 5,600 jobs, most of them clinical posts. Campaigners have stressed that the hospitals at risk are in some of the most deprived areas in NW London.

However public health experts, not normally leading advocates of hospital care, have flagged up concerns over the huge number of beds to be cut in hospitals, in addition to those at risk in the four main target hospitals. The total to be cut adds up to more than a quarter of the 3449 available beds in the vast eight borough area (see table below).

These plans are listed in the ‘PreConsultation Business Case,’ but were not included in the consultation despite the potential impact on patient care for some of the most seriously ill patients in West London.

The largest numbers and proportion of beds to be cut are in some of the hospitals which do not appear to be directly affected by the A&E closures or the plans set out in Shaping a Healthier Future

        Chelsea & Westminster (set to lose 144 beds, 36.5% of its total),

        the costly PFI-funded West Middlesex also loses more than a third of its beds,

        Northwick Park Hospital, where beds already average more than 95% occupancy, and which is to lose almost a third of its beds while picking up extra emergency caseload from Ealing and Central Middlesex.

        Hillingdon hospital, close to Heathrow airport and M25 is also to lose 29% of its beds.

Such a large-scale and rapid closure of beds would pose a huge challenge to health services, putting massive strain on GPs and primary care, and raising fresh questions over the plans for community-based services to replace hospital care. Directly questioned in debate, NHS NW London officials have admitted that these plans are not yet even at the drawing board stage.

London Health Emergency director Dr John Lister said:

“This is a shockingly irresponsible plan, which is effectively being smuggled through without proper public debate. We have now heard the grave concerns of public health professionals – the very people whose job it is to take care of the health of whole populations – who fear that the system just will not be able to cope. The figures they highlight show that the danger affects all areas of West London.

“It’s clear from these figures that, as we have argued from the start, the Consultation document told local people and health professionals only part of the story, and kept key details  tucked away in obscure documents. Many of the GPs who have been persuaded to go along with this scheme, and the hospital Trusts that were happy to endorse cuts in other Trusts now have to face up to the grim reality: they were conned.

“The consultation process is deeply flawed. With such important information withheld by NHS NW London there was no way for the public, especially in Hillingdon, Hounslow, Harrow, Kensington & Chelsea or Westminster to respond to the threats to their services.

“We urge local Health Oversight & Scrutiny Committees, Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Primary Care Trusts to step in and force a reopening of consultation and a proper debate with all the facts on the table for people to see”.

 

Planned hospital bed reductions NW London 2012-15

 

Current beds total

Current used beds

Total required in 2015

Reduction from total

Reduction as percentage of total

St Mary’s

364

364

295

60

19%

Hammersmith

414

414

335

70

19%

Charing Cross

498

498

386

112

22%

Chelsea & Westminster

394

330

250

144

36.5%

West Middlesex

323

297

204

119

37%

Ealing

327

297

223

104

32%

Central Middlesex

227

209

156

71

31%

Northwick Park

576

533

390

186

32%

Hillingdon

326

326

231

95

29%

Total

3449

3268

2470

979

28%

Source:  Shaping a Healthier Future, Pre-Consultation Business Case, Volume 8, Appendix C, page 15

http://www.northwestlondon.nhs.uk/westminster/publications/?category=4924-Shaping+a+healthier+future+-+Pre+Consultation+Business+Case+-+29+June+2012-d&pct=93 

 

 

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