Don’t let West London Hospitals close!

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The weekly picket of Ealing Hospital by the West London Council of Action
The weekly picket of Ealing Hospital by the West London Council of Action

EALING Council is going to go to court today, 9 October in a bid to secure a full judicial review (JR) of plans to downgrade four major local hospitals.

Previously, a judge rejected the council’s application for the judicial review of NHS plans to shut A&E departments and downgrade other services at Ealing, Central Middlesex, Hammersmith and Charing Cross hospitals.

The council will now present its case for judicial review at an oral hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand.

The controversial plans are the largest ever attempted by the NHS despite increasing demand for emergency services.

Local campaigners and the council have raised concerns about the safety of the plans and the ability of remaining services to cope.

If the plans go ahead the NHS has admitted that ‘blue light’ journeys will be longer for one in three patients.

Colin Standfield, chair of the Ealing Save Our Services (SOS) campaign, told News Line: ‘We hope that the High Court will listen to the views expressed by the cross party support for all the organisations fighting to save the four threatened hospitals in North West London.

‘It would be inevitable that “blue light” journeys will be lengthened, you can argue over how much, but in the real world the time added onto a journey will be substantial.

‘These proposed closures are life threatening.

‘All four hospitals need to be saved, there is no reason that these four hospitals should not continue to run.’

Eve Turner, Ealing Trades Council added: ‘The proposed closure of the A&E’s and other vital services at the four hospitals is an attack on working people and the poor.

‘There are many deprived people living in these areas, high unemployment, poverty and high incidents of TB, Diabetes and other health problems, who will be left without fully functioning hospitals that are easily accessible.

‘Our communities need all these services to remain open and fully funded.’

Councillor Julian Bell, leader of the council, said: ‘We welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.

‘We will be setting out our very serious concerns about plans to decimate hospital services across north-west London and arguing forcefully for a full judicial review.

‘This winter, millions of pounds in crisis payments will be spent to sustain accident and emergency services including at Ealing Hospital.

‘This money is being spent because these services are essential. So, how can we trust people who tell us that cutting half of the emergency units in our area is safe and will actually enhance our residents’ health?

‘These plans are driven by cost-cutting but dressed up under the guise of health improvement and they don’t stand up to scrutiny.’

The council has also referred the issue to the secretary of state for health, Hunt, who responded by ordering an independent panel to review the NHS plans.

The panel’s report was presented to Mr Hunt on 13 September and his decision is expected to be announced in the next few weeks.

Campaigners are meeting outside the Royal Courts of Justice, The Strand, WC2A 2LL today, Wednesday, 9 October, at 9.00am.