‘AFTER taking legal counsel’s advice, the closure of Chase Farm Hospital would be unlawful,’ Enfield Council warned yesterday.
This was its response to the decision of Enfield, Barnet and Haringay Care Commissioning Groups to proceed ‘as soon as possible’ with the closure of the hospital.
The Commissioning Groups voted that closure of Chase Farm Hospital’s A&E, Maternity and Paediatrics units should proceed ‘as soon as possible’ despite huge opposition in the local community.
The extraordinary meeting to decide the fate of Chase Farm took place at Barnet FC football ground, where members of the public, GPs, MPs, and local counsellors, witnessed all three commissioning groups, voting unanimously for the resolution for closure.
The resolution stated: ‘Agree that the changes to A&E, Paediatrics, Maternity, Neonatal and Planned Care Services, under the BEH clinical strategy (in accordance with the decision of the then-Secretary of State, in 2008 and 2011) should happen as soon as possible, from the 15th November 2013.’
Preceding the meeting, was a lively lobby called by the North East London Council of Action, demanding Chase Farm Hospital does NOT close and calling for everyone to join the march and occupation of Chase Farm Hospital on October 26 to save the hospital.
During the meeting, Enfield Council Director of Health, Housing and Adult Social Care, Ray James said: ‘I have repeatedly heard the future tense used in all the plans that are meant to be implemented for the changes.
‘I’ve heard concerns from members of the public, and I am not convinced that adequate measures are put in place to implement the proposed changes.’
James then read out a statement from the Council which said: ‘The Secretary of State’s consent to the closure of A&E at Chase Farm in 2005, reiterated in 2011, was explicitly conditional on fulfilment of plans for improved primary care in Enfield, known generally as the IRP recommendations …
because of the importance to Enfield, the Council has taken leading legal counsel advice.
‘We have been advised that a “Close decision” without compliance with the preconditions and discharge of the assurances would be unlawful,’ James concluded.
Earlier in the meeting, members of the public expressed their anger at the proposed closure.
Monty Meth, President of the Over 50s Forum, addressed the meeting.
He said: ‘We now find out that it is not a merger between Chase Farm and the Royal Free hospitals, but an acquisition.
‘We need firm assurance from the Secretary of State for Health, and the new managers of the Royal Free that Chase Farm is not going to close.
‘Can the people in this room really give the assurance that Chase Farm Hospital is not going to close? I think they cannot.
‘We are talking about the future of Chase Farm Hospital and the future of thousands of residents who use Chase Farm.’
Bill Rogers, Secretary of the North East London Council of Action addressed the meeting.
He said: ‘We were set up by the ASLEF Chingford Railway Workers Branch to oppose cuts and closures at Chase Farm Hospital.
‘When they had the train crash at Potters Bar, Chase Farm was the first hospital to treat patients, not six miles down the road here in Barnet.
‘Only last year on 158 occasions, women had to be referred from Barnet maternity to Chase Farm. They cannot cope now!
‘The North East London Council of Action does not support the closure.
‘We have been picketing for over four years and over 400 days every day.
‘We need to improve Chase Farm not close it down.
‘We have a march on October 26th which is supported by the Fire Brigade’s Union, ASLEF railway men and the the doctors union, BMA.’