North London will suffer if Chase Farm closes

Midwives campaigning outside the House of Commons last month insisting that thousands more midwives are needed to provide a proper service
Midwives campaigning outside the House of Commons last month insisting that thousands more midwives are needed to provide a proper service

IT IS being made even clearer that North Londoners will suffer if the projected closure of Chase Farm A&E goes ahead.

The number of people waiting more than four hours for a hospital bed once they have been admitted to A&E at Barnet Hospital and Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield has more than doubled in the past year.

According to Department of Health figures, in the first six months of 2011, 492 patients at Barnet and Chase Farm had to wait between four and 12 hours before being transferred to a hospital ward.

The number increased to 1,092 during the first six months of 2012.

Chase Farm is threatened with losing its 24-hour A&E in September 2013. Emergency patients are due to be sent instead to Barnet, or North Middlesex University Hospital in Edmonton.

Barry Rawlings, health spokesman for the Barnet Labour group, which compiled the figures from government statistics, said: ‘It is clear that three A&Es can’t cope with the pressure given the funding cuts.

‘This will only get worse if Chase Farm’s A&E closes.’

The South London Healthcare Trust is, meanwhile, to be run by private companies which have been asked to bid to run its services.

The trust comprises Princess Royal Orpington, Queen Elizabeth Woolwich and Queen Mary’s Sidcup hospitals.

Special administrator (SA) Matthew Kershaw was appointed in July, when the trust was deemed financially unsustainable with a ‘deficit’ of £65m on an annual turnover of £459m.

The deficit is equivalent to the annual cost of PFI repayments at two of the three hospitals!

A ‘market engagement document’, in a clear invitation to private companies like Circle (who have already taken over an NHS management franchise of Hinchingbrooke Hospital), says: ‘Currently all options for the delivery of care within the Trust are being considered. Potential options include merger and acquisition, joint ventures, franchises, management of healthcare services and delivery of clinical services.’

The tender document reveals that ‘other Trusts across the country may also be placed in the (Unsustainable Provider) Regime’, either to be closed or put under private management.

All NHS hospitals are to become Foundation Trust businesses by April 2014.

• 120,000 women may not be getting the support they need in labour and birth, warned the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) yesterday.

Over 1,800 women responded to a new survey of women’s experience of pregnancy organised by the RCM and Bounty Parenting Club.

The RCM noted: ‘Care whilst in labour remains an issue with nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of women feeling unsupported during labour and birth.

‘This could mean as many as 120,000 women in England each year not getting the care and support they need at this crucial point.

‘Midwifery shortages and lack of resources have an impact on choice of place of birth.

‘A significant number (12 per cent) of women said that they were not offered a choice because there were not enough midwives or there were inadequate facilities on offer to them.

‘One of the government’s pledges was to provide more support for women in the postnatal period and for those suffering from postnatal depression.

‘Given this pledge it is a concern that a third of women said they did not feel fully supported after they gave birth.’