Enfield Council leaders have decided to mount a legal challenge to Health Secretary Johnson’s decision to close Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E and consultant-led Maternity departments.
The closures would ‘strike a serious blow to the health and well-being of our borough’, the council stressed.
Council leader Mike Rye said: ‘We have decided to take the legal route as part of our determination to save Chase Farm and keep it at the heart of our community.’
He added: ‘The wishes of the vast majority of residents in Enfield have been treated with contempt by a sham of a consultation and indifference from the Secretary of State.’
A council statement issued yesterday said: ‘At a meeting of Enfield Council’s cabinet on 26 November 2008, it was agreed that the Council should seek to challenge the decisions of the Secretary of State for Health and Barnet, Enfield and Haringey Primary Care Trusts about the future of services at local hospitals.
‘It was agreed that the Council should seek a judicial review in the courts.
‘This decision is subject to the Council’s normal democratic processes.’
Speaking in personal capacity, British Medical Association Council member, and consultant surgeon Anna Athow told News Line: ‘It’s a good thing that there will be a judicial review of the decision to close Chase Farm as an acute district general hospital (DGH).
‘There was never a proper consultation process.
‘The decision had been made by this government beforehand and it was simply imposed.
‘There remains an absolute need for an acute DGH in Enfield.
‘Residents and councillors have shown over and over again that this is what they want to have.
‘The North East London Council of Action is continuing with its campaign to keep acute services on the site, whatever the outcome of the judicial review, and staff may decide to occupy the hospital.’
Save Chase Farm councillor Kieran McGregor added: ‘We’re very pleased with the decision to seek a judicial review.
‘We regret it had to come to this point but we feel we’ve explored every other avenue.
‘We think the decision to close the A&E and Maternity was perverse and that it endangers lives.
‘Hopefully, the courts will reverse the government’s decision.’
A Department of Health spokesman said yesterday: ‘The department has received a letter in regard to this and it is now with our solicitors, as is due process, for advice.’
• Hospitals face huge cuts as a result of health minister Darzi’s plan for London, a report published yesterday by the body charged with seeing through his ‘reforms’ reveals.
The Healthcare for London report states: ‘Healthcare for London has examined the financial impact of implementing its 10-year programme.
‘It was concluded that the overall effect of the changes proposed in the strategy could result in around a 15 per cent reduction in income for the local hospital over the next five years.
‘This reduction in income could be partially offset by increased demand for services.
‘However, these changes will be challenging and will require dedication, resources and excellent skills to achieve them.’
It suggests: ‘opportunities for trusts to broaden the range of services they offer’ could include:
‘• extending rehabilitation and intermediate care services
‘• provision of an onsite polyclinic
‘• developing local niche services
‘• the movement of some elective surgery from major acutes to local hospitals.’