BIGGEST HOSPITAL CLOSURE PROGRAMME IN HISTORY REVEALED! Occupy to stop the closure of Hammersmith & Central Middx A&Es and Charing Cross Hospital

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Campaigning at Charing Cross on the 66th anniversary of the NHS on July 5th
Campaigning at Charing Cross on the 66th anniversary of the NHS on July 5th

LAST Thursday night Imperial Healthcare Trust, which runs Charing Cross, Hammersmith and St Mary’s Hospitals, published details of their plans for the three sites.

It amounts to the biggest hospital closure programme in the history of the NHS.

The decision will be approved by the Imperial Board when they meet at 10am at Hammersmith Hospital on Wednesday 30 July.

This is a public meeting – and campaigners will be demonstrating outside the hospital at 9.30am.

• Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&Es will close on 10 September. 22,000 Hammersmith patients a year will be told to attend St Mary’s Paddington despite fears this will ‘compromise performance’.

• Plans are to demolish Charing Cross Hospital, sell 55% of site and reduce space by more than 75%.

• Inpatient beds at Charing Cross would reduce from 360 to just 24. Charing Cross would become a ‘local hospital’ providing GP and treatment services and day surgery.

• A&E services would ‘move out’ of Charing Cross, contrary to a personal assurance from the Secretary of State that it would ‘continue to offer an A&E service’.

• All major emergency services to go from Charing Cross including neurosurgery, stroke, specialist medicine, A&E, acute surgery, urology, complex ENT and breast.

• Over the three main Imperial sites there would be a net loss of 170 beds.

• Plans are to cut £207m from the budget in next five years, on top of £127m cut in last three. One third of turnover of £979m.

• 45% of St Mary’s Paddington site and all of Western Eye Hospital are also for sale. Site disposals to raise total of £270m.

• There will be no public consultation on the plans for Charing Cross and St Mary’s.

• Public information on the closure of Hammersmith and Central Middlesex A&E has not started, six weeks before closure, but £300,000 has been paid to PR consultants, including £55,000 to M&C Saatchi.

• Leaflets to be distributed in west London in August say the A&Es are ‘changing’ not closing.

In February 2013, plans to sell the whole Charing Cross site save for a clinic on 3% of the land, were met with outrage and the local NHS promised to go away and think again.

Their original timetable – to report back by October last year – slipped month by month and Imperial took over the lead in developing plans.

At the end of October 2013 Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirmed his wish to close Hammersmith A&E but said Charing Cross would ‘continue to offer an A&E service’.

However the situation remained very unclear and the truth was held back in part to help the Tories in the local elections in May.

Now we have the final proposals and they are worse than people were recently led to believe. Charing Cross is to close as a major hospital. It will be reduced to a primary care centre with some day surgery and treatment services.

This is simply unacceptable to many west Londoners and we are going to keep fighting to save Charing Cross which has been a landmark London hospital for almost 200 years.

More than half the Charing Cross site will be sold, the existing hospital demolished and new building will provide less than quarter of the current floor space.

All consultant emergency services will close or go elsewhere. The present 360 inpatient beds will fall to just 24. The biggest betrayal is the loss of the A&E. Far from continuing ‘to offer an A&E service’ as Hunt promised, Imperial confirm that A&E will ‘move out’ of Charing Cross under trust plans leaving ‘an emergency service appropriate for a local hospital’. This means an urgent care centre staffed by GPs and nurses.

The immediate crisis is the closure of the two A&Es at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex.

Imperial admit that there is a risk that this will ‘compromise performance against the 4-hour waiting time standard’.

A&Es are already at capacity and the thought that two will close immediately and another two – Charing Cross and Ealing – within the next few years is grotesque. Development is at an all-time high with the population expected to grow by 10% in the next ten years.

22,000 people attend Hammersmith A&E every year, mainly from White City, East Acton and North Kensington, some of the poorest areas of London with the worst health outcomes.

Now they must either put up with a second-class service or make the difficult journey to St Mary’s Paddington where A&E waiting times already breach the four hour standard.

To suggest that services are ‘changing’ rather than closing is misleading and dangerous. This closure programme, the biggest in NHS history, has been subject to spin and concealment by the local NHS and the government throughout.

The A&E closures at Hammersmith and Central Middlesex Hospitals were announced the day after the local elections. Despite a £300,000 PR spend, two months later no publicity has been undertaken.

People are being insulted by disingenuous nonsense about ‘changing’ and ‘transforming’ when the services are simply being shut down.

The result is people will continue to go to Hammersmith Hospital after 10 September believing there is an A&E on site, with the possible tragic consequences we have seen at Chase Farm.

With a further £207m to save from their budget over the next five years on top of £127m saved in the past three these are cost-driven decisions and the blame for them lies with the coalition government and the Health Secretary.

The destruction of the NHS in Hammersmith & Fulham is the most serious challenge facing us.

• Over 1,000 patients and staff of Eastbourne General Hospital took to the streets on Saturday for a demonstration and rally organised by the GMB trade union.

This was to highlight the latest unfair and unreasonable redeployments of over potentially 200 staff from around the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust to other areas within the county without undertaking meaningful consultation with unions and staff.

The 200 staff are employed in clinical administration, booking and reception functions across East Sussex NHS Trust.

This campaign comes as part of the GMB’s on-going commitment to staff, patients and public affected by East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s poor management and lack of consideration for staff and service users, to fight every cut, closure or outsourcing threat that the Trust try to force through off the back of the chief exec and his team’s mismanagement of the financial debts the Trust find themselves landed with.

Along with the fact that he wishes to make those cost cuts both off the back of the pay and terms & condition of our members and his employees and in doing so putting both the service the Trust currently provides and the health and safety of patients at risk.

The march started at 10.30am from the Eastbourne Pier, travelled through the town centre and made its way back to the seafront for a rally at the Wish Tower.

This followed on from two extremely successful lunch time demo’s outside Eastbourne General Hospital on the issue.

Gary Palmer, GMB Regional Officer, said before the event: ‘This campaign comes as part of the GMB’s on-going commitment to staff, patients and public affected by East Sussex Healthcare Trust’s poor management and lack of consideration for staff and service users.

‘The GMB is fighting every cut, closure or outsourcing threat that the Trust try to force through.

‘These cuts arise due to mismanagement by Darren Grayson chief executive and his team which has created the financial debt the Trust find themselves landed in.

‘Darren Grayson is arguing against the GMB members, NHS staff, local politicians and public pressure groups, such as Defend the NHS Sussex and save the DGH campaign who are protesting and challenging poor decisions and in wanting to defend services not just at the Eastbourne Hospital, but also in other places within the community such as Uckfield, Lewes, Bexhill, Rye hospitals.

‘Even the Conquest Hospital is facing the threat of outsourcing in facilities management and with the Trust saying it’s also not ruling out doing the same potentially with clinical services. In one recent chief exec weekly news message he dismisses any opposition to his master plan in waving it away as simply the nonsense said by a small number of local people trying to make a name for themselves.

‘It actually sums up the problem with Darren Grayson that he doesn’t really know what’s good for the hospitals in his care, the people who use them and certainly not the people who work in them, This is because, Mr Grayson doesn’t do consultation, communication and consideration.

‘So let’s make it clear; we the GMB and its members are about protecting NHS Hospitals, the services they provide and importantly the staff who work within it. The money is there to maintain services within the trust. Darren Grayson just needs to stop wasting large sums of public money on employing so called overpaid experts to do his own job.

‘All he needs to do is to speak, for free, to the people who can make suggestions on efficiency savings and changes which would benefit patients and services alike, whilst not forcing them to see their own standards of living continuously fall, whilst Darren Grayson and his cronies live the NHS high life.

‘This fight is for everyone in East Sussex. GMB invite the public to come along to Eastbourne Pier on July 26th at 10.30 am and support local hospitals, the services they provide and the hardworking NHS staff in them. We need them to send a clear message to Darren Grayson.’