NHS hits back at Council’s “incorrect and misleading claims” that closure of Charing Cross Hospital is planned

The Imperial College NHS Trust chief executive Dr Tracey Batten and North West London collaboration of clinical commissioning groups chief officer Clare Parker have challenged Hammersmith and Fulham council leader Stephen Cowan over inaccurate and misleading claims about Charing Cross Hospital.

A recent letter from Cllr Cowan to all of the borough’s residents says that ‘NHS bosses have re-launched plans to close Charing Cross’ as part of the north west London sustainability and transformation plan (STP).

In their joint response, Dr Batten and Ms Parker point out that there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross Hospital and that the STP actually makes a clear commitment that there will be no reduction in Charing Cross’s A&E department or wider services within the lifetime of the plan – that runs until April 2021.

They also highlight the recent £2.5 million investment in urgent and emergency care services and theatres at Charing Cross.

The letter goes on to say that it’s more important than ever for the NHS and local authorities to work closely together.

It says:

We are writing to express our concern at your leaflet ‘Save Charing Cross Hospital – stand with us to fight the latest closure plan’ (attached), which you circulated with council tax updates to the residents of your borough this month. This material made a number of incorrect and misleading claims about the future of Charing Cross Hospital which is likely to cause significant, unnecessary distress to patients and staff.

As you will be fully aware, there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross Hospital.

You will also know that, far from “re-launching” proposals for changes at Charing Cross, the North West London Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) made a clear commitment that there will be no reduction in Charing Cross’s A&E department or wider services within the lifetime of the plan (that runs until April 2021). And we recently updated you on a £2.5 million investment in urgent and emergency care services and theatres at Charing Cross.

Like the rest of the NHS, we are working hard to respond to growing and changing demand, especially to support frail and elderly patients with a range of health problems. We also want to continue to offer the residents of NW London the very best in specialist health care, as we do, for example, at the Trust’s dedicated heart attack centre, stroke unit and major trauma centre. And this is all within the context of increasing financial pressure. It’s more important than ever that the NHS and local authorities work closely together to develop better and more integrated ways to help local people stay as healthy as possible and to get fast access to the right care when and where they need it.

As such, we do believe health and care services need to continue to change along the lines set out in the service strategy for NW London, agreed in 2013 following a full public consultation. We made further commitments through the STP that we will work jointly with communities and councils to design new models of care as set out in the strategy and that we will first progress and test new out-of-hospital models before looking to reduce acute hospital capacity.

It is difficult to understand why the Council would choose to spend significant sums of public money fighting ‘closure plans’ that do not exist and when your NHS partners have clearly set out that service changes over at least the next five years will be focused on providing better ways of helping local people stay healthy and avoid unnecessary hospital admissions or long stays.

As such, through this letter, we are raising a formal complaint with you regarding this publicity material and its content which we believe has clearly breached the Code of Recommended Practice on Local Authority Publicity, specifically around objectivity and even-handedness. We request that you stop any further promotion of this leaflet and publicly retract your misleading claims. Further details on the grounds for our complaint are attached.

We will be making this response publicly available as part of the effort now required to reassure residents, patients and our staff that Charing Cross Hospital continues to be a vital part of the Trust and the NHS in NW London, and that we are continuing to invest in its future.

4 thoughts on “NHS hits back at Council’s “incorrect and misleading claims” that closure of Charing Cross Hospital is planned

  1. Yes this is a current Labour Party line of attack they are creating make-believe closures to satisfy their old methods of attacking Conservative Governments, so they are distorting the truth to suite their ideology. Its a short term strategy and one doomed to fail as this article shows – I would create a leaflet and circulate it – celebrating the hospital/NHS (I actually worked there once) and showing support for it.

  2. Labour are making up false closures, they have no ammunition and so to support their out of date attacks on the Conservatives in government they are creating lies to fit their debased ideology. I would make sure Conservative HQ are aware of this.

  3. All sensible voices in the debate about the NHS are saying we need a non-partisan, cross-party approach. Labour’s ‘weaponisation’ of the issue has served them well electorally in the past, but now looks out of touch, especially when it involves such blatant distortions and misrepresentations, funded by taxes which could be spent in so many better ways.

    I really resent having paid for all the idiotic ‘Save Charing Cross Hospital’ posters i see in peoples’ windows. It is time to get behind Simon Stephens and the NHS as they wrestle with the tremendous challenges of an aging population, a huge growth in chronic conditions and a vastly expanded range of costly treatment options, all delivered by a health service model which no other advanced economy has chosen..

    Corbynite dinosaurs in the Town Hall – you are now part of the problem, please get out the way and stop making things worse.

  4. I just went for a walk around my manor and I was genuinely shocked at how many of these posters are being displayed in windows. I really hope this formal complaint leads to something being done to stop LBHF in their tracks.

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