THE General Medical Council (GMC) has threatened to close North Middlesex District General Hospital including its Accident & Emergency Department.
The GMC, which regulates doctors, issued its threat after warning that North Mid A&E has been overwhelmed since the closure of Chase Farm Hospital A&E in December 2013 and that the 500 patients a day who attend it are at ‘serious risk’ of suffering harm.
Shocking internal NHS documents have come to light speaking of ‘junior staff being left in charge of the (emergency) department, highlighting a probable risk to patients’ and describing care in A&E overnight as ‘an area of significant risk’ to patient safety.
‘We are extremely concerned about the standards of training and support for trainee doctors in the emergency department of this hospital,’ said Niall Dickson, GMC chief executive.
‘Without adequate support and supervision there is a serious risk that their patients are being put at risk. Together with Health Education England (HEE) we have set out what the trust must do to put matters right and together we will monitor the situation. Ultimately we will not allow postgraduate training to continue in this department if the appropriate action is not taken,’ he added.
On 20 May, the GMC sent HEE a letter threatening to remove the 26 junior doctors in A&E – effectively closing the department. Last month, the Care Quality Commission served a warning notice on the hospital telling it to make ‘significant improvements in the quality of the healthcare it provides in the emergency department’.
Julie Lowe, the hospital’s chief executive, said that it had only seven of the 15 A&E consultants it was meant to have and just seven of 13 middle-grade medics. ‘It’s a strain on our A&E team and it’s making waiting times for some patients unacceptably long,’ she admitted.
Bill Rogers, Chairman of Chingford Aslef branch and Secretary of the North East London Council of Action, said, ‘The only solution is to reopen the A&E at Chase Farm to relieve the pressure at North Mid and Barnet that its closure created in the first place.’
‘We occupied Chase Farm A&E to stop the closure and the trade union leaders refused to support us, and really they are complicit in this problem at North Mid. It’s what you get when you close down A&Es. The neighbouring hospitals have to take the burden. I call on the NHS unions at North Middlesex to organise an official occupation of the hospital. The unions must not allow it to be closed. They must defend the NHS!’
‘This is a warning of what will happen if they close down Ealing A&E – the neighbouring hospitals will be swamped with patients, in the same boat as North Mid and unable to cope.
‘I call on everyone to join the Ealing march on 29th June to stop the closure of the Charlie Chaplin children’s ward and the A&E and for trade unionists, doctors, nurses to join the march.’