This morning I spoke on BBC Radio London commenting on the Mail on Sunday article about Charing Cross Hospital’s A&E.
The headline dramatically states that “A&E unit in London faces axe… after PM promised personally it would stay open” although later the article admits that “A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘The Health Secretary has already been clear that Charing Cross Hospital should continue to offer an A&E service which provides high quality urgent and emergency care services 24/7.’”
So why is the Mail suggesting that “NHS papers show” Charing Cross Hospital will only have an “urgent care centre”? This is entirely false. The papers in question are from July’s Imperial board meeting and make it clear that the A&E will stay. At the bottom of the article, Imperial is again quoted saying that “There is no proposal to close the A&E at Charing Cross Hospital”.
The answer is that they foolishly believed their source. Andrew Slaughter recently endorsed a claim that the Mail was “at the very least negligent and very possibly dangerous” about checking its facts.
He obviously spotted an opportunity. Rather than sitting down to read the 284-page Imperial board papers, the journalist appears to have swallowed Slaughter’s spin and then regurgitated his press release.
The reality is that Charing Cross will keep an A&E. We have also been promised by the Secretary of State and the Prime Minister that it will be an A&E. It won’t be in the same shape or form as it currently is, but it will be a lot more than an Urgent Care Centre.
The detailed model is awaiting the second phase of Prof Sir Bruce Keogh’s Urgent and Emergency Care Review. This is a national review about improving care that was set up long before the Charing Cross decision. Although Imperial’s board papers contain a lot of information, they confirm that the “Keogh review will help determine how the Emergency Care services for a local hospital will be configured”.
Unfortunately, Labour don’t care about the specialisation of emergency care or the evidence that it will save lives. They ran their council campaign on lies about the NHS because they had no coherent policies for the borough. Andrew Slaughter wants to make the general election
about the same lies on the NHS because Labour has no coherent policies for the country.
Labour’s NHS scaremongering has even been picked up by the SNP during the independence campaign and is putting the Union at risk.
It’s clear that we can’t trust Labour to tell the truth about the NHS.
The people we should trust are the expert clinicians. It is doctors who are leading these decisions about NHS reform, not politicians. We should scrutinise and hold them to account, but when all the evidence and clinical experts are saying reforms will improve care and save lives, we should also listen to them.