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?
The BBC is reporting that the medical director of the largest commissioning cluster in the capital has said hospitals in north west London “will almost certainly” have to close.
The cluster has been tasked with saving about £1bn over four years.
NHS NWL serves a population of 1.9 million people in eight boroughs – Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster.
It currently has a budget of about £4bn a year and has been tasked with cutting about £1bn from its budget by 2014-15.
NHS North West London (NWL) medical director Mark Spencer said: “We have more hospitals per head of population, more hospital beds per head of population and travel time to your local hospital is much shorter than anywhere else in the country. And that’s an inefficient system.”
When asked if hospitals will have to close, he said: “Almost certainly.
“Some of these will continue as diagnostic and outpatient facilities but it’s likely some of them won’t have hospital beds in them as they do now.”
When asked whether NHS NWL will have fewer hospitals with accident and emergency (A&E) services, he replied: “I think that’s very likely.”
Unfortunately, closing A&E services mean that it takes longer for people to get emergency treatment and this could be the difference between life and death.
In relation to other services, the NHS Bill passed through Parliament yesterday means that up to 49% of resources can be used privately meaning that there could be less resources available for the public.