Mansfield Health Commission Report published

After controversial national changes to the NHS, Brent contributed to a major independent review led by top lawyer Michael Mansfield QC.

The Independent Healthcare Commission for North West London, led by Mr Mansfield, spoke to lots of residents and considered hundreds of pages of evidence and the final report has now been published.

The main findings are highly critical of the process of reorganising NHS services across North West London, including closing down Accident and Emergency centres at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex hospitals, and concentrating more services in other hospitals, including Northwick Park.

The report shows how wrong it was to shut these centres before it had first improved other services designed to relieve pressure on Accident and Emergency services. I’m also concerned that there isn’t a proper recognition of how quickly the population is growing, and how much NHS provision we really need.  It’s important now that we learn those lessons, and focus on supporting Northwick Park and other NHS services in helping local people remain healthy.  In future, any such changes need to be designed in greater collaboration with local councils.

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Key tests that North West London Hospital reconfiguration should be subject to

Labour MP and Shadow Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham MP said in a recent Parliamentary debate that I blogged on earlier on Health that…

In 2010, the Secretary of State set out four tests that all proposed reconfigurations had to pass. They related to support from general practitioners, strengthened public and patient engagement, clear clinical evidence and support for patient choice. He said:

“Without all those elements, reconfigurations cannot proceed.”

So let me ask the Minister: does he think that the A and E units closing at Ealing, Hammersmith, Charing Cross and Central Middlesex pass that test? How about St Helier, King George, Newark and Rugby?

Sarah Teather a no show at Parliamentary debate on local hospitals

Maybe there was a rational reason why the Tory Liberal Minister could not attend the debate and vote on the NHS and local hospitals.

However, it is good that attention was paid to Central Middlesex Hospital in the debate.

Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North said,

Barry Gardiner: Thank you, Sir. I shall try to respect your advice.

In November 2011, the following announcement appeared on the Central Middlesex hospital website:

“A and E at Central Middx Hospital is temporarily closing overnight between 7 pm and 8 am starting from Monday 14 November 2011.

The urgent care centre next to A and E will remain open 24 hrs a day 7 days a week to treat patients with minor injuries and illness.

We are making this temporary change to ensure we continue to provide a safe service to patients during the winter months.”

In those three paragraphs, we hear twice over that that overnight closure is temporary, which gave minimal comfort to my constituents in Brent who used the facility. The overnight closure is indeed temporary. On 2 July, a consultation entitled “Shaping a healthier future” was launched in north-west London, and residents can submit their views until 8 October this year. The consultation, promoted by a transitional body called NHS North West London, aims to centralise and rationalise hospital services in the area. Each proposal outlined in the consultation includes the closure of the A and E at Central Middlesex—not overnight provision, but the 24-hour facility—for good.

The motion speaks of

“the growing gap between Ministers’ statements and what is happening in the NHS”.

I may have trouble agreeing with that, because it depends on which Minister and which statements. The Minister of State, Department for Education, the hon. Member for Brent Central (Sarah Teather), received an e-mail from me today advising her that, if called to speak, I would quote her in this evening’s debate. I wanted to do so, because she made the following three statements. First:

“The Tories would be a disaster for the NHS, they plan a part privatised service”.

The second quotation:

“These cuts will hit the poorest and most vulnerable hardest”.

The third quotation:

“The government must take urgent steps to safeguard our local NHS”.

Those three quotes date respectively from 2003, 2007 and 2007, when the hon. Lady was campaigning to keep open the accident and emergency centre at Central Middlesex hospital—campaigning for something which she, in her government, is now closing. No wonder her latest comment is:

“This flawed consultation, which does not allow residents to say that they want to save the A and E, is a kick in the teeth for all local people.”

I do not speak Parseltongue—I do not understand it—but I deplore the pretence of opposing a policy that you are pushing through in government. That is really disgraceful.

Even Tory MP for Ealing, Angie Bray MP spoke out against what is happening. She said,

Angie Bray: As my right hon. Friend is aware, the proposal is to downgrade four accident and emergency departments across London that are all right beside my constituency. Does he agree with my constituents that losing four accident and emergency departments is disproportionate and will mean a significant loss of service for them locally?

Brent Council Liberal Democrats and A&E at Central Middlesex

Yesterday night at Full Council, the Labour group supported a motion that condemned the lack of consideration shown to Brent residents given that this department serves people living in the poorest part of Brent.

Sadly, the Brent Council Lib Dems and Tories both failed to support the motion and voted against it. It is worth noting that there were a couple of Lib Dem Councillors, namely Barry Cheese and Ann Hunter that did at least abstain and could not bring themselves to vote against the motion.

However, the erratic behaviour of Lib Dem Leader Cllr Paul Lorber during the debate of the motion sent shockwaves in the Council Chamber. He claimed that A&E is mostly for drunk people anyway and chose to attack me for being “relatively new” and “inexperienced” rather than address the arguments I made in the debate about meeting the needs of the poorest in the Borough and the concerns that residents in Brent were raising over A&E closure.

What’s more, is that Brent Tory Cllr Reg Colwill joined in with his contribution to the debate.

Such age discriminatory comments are very out of touch and perhaps shows the greater need to have more young people in elected and prominent positions and change the age demographic and profile of Councillors.

I’m sure there would have been a formal punishment had it been a younger Councillor making a similar derogatory comment based on age to an elderly Councillor.

This is proof that there is a lot of progress to be made in changing the attitudes and mindset of Councillors as well as wider society towards young people.