Hammersmith and Fulham Council persists in claiming that the NHS threatens to close Charing Cross Hospital including its A&E. The NHS persists in denying this (see the latest letter below from the last Imperial NHS Trust board papers.) Even if the NHS did have such a plan Labour’s “early pledge” in the last council elections to “block” such plans was dishonest as the Council has no such power.
If forced to choose whether to believe doctors or Labour councillors I would tend to go with the former. Having said that the NHS certainly haven’t done themselves any favours with their communications. Their messages have been pretty impenetrable and contradictory at times.
What I am absolutely clear about is that I do not support the closure of Charing Cross Hospital or its A&E – nor do any of my fellow Conservative councillors. Labour keep pushing this lie in the most offensive and emotive terms. Increasingly their message inspires intimidatory behaviour from the Corbynista fringe – which Labour councillors have not yet disowned despite instances being raised with them. It is the “politics of hate” and Labour should cease promoting it.
Instead they should focus on running the Council. On the many issues which they are responsible for. At present they seem to be trying to deflect attention from their failings.
18th July 2017
Dear Councillor Cowan
Thank you for your letter of 12 June 2017 responding to the complaint we raised with you in March. Your response, and subsequent mailings to local residents, continue to provide an extremely partial account of the facts about the future of Charing Cross Hospital. Our only motivation in challenging your approach is to end the unnecessary distress this is causing to our staff, patients and local communities, especially at a time when our health services are under particular pressure.
Through our regular meetings with your councillors and officers and frequent attendance at the Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, we believe we have set out the facts clearly:
In 2012, we published plans for a reconfiguration of health services across North West London to respond to rapidly changing health and care needs. We undertook a full public consultation which set out plans for a more integrated approach to care, with the consolidation of specialist services onto fewer sites, where this would improve quality and efficiency, and the expansion of care for routine and on-going conditions, especially in the community, to improve access. Charing Cross was envisaged as a ‘local hospital’ within this network of services, building on its role as a growing hub for integrated care offered in partnership between hospital specialists, local GPs and community providers.
After the consultation, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts (JCPCT) met to make their decisions. One of those decisions related to an alternative proposal that we had developed for the Charing Cross Hospital site in response to feedback from the public consultation. This proposal, which saw a wider range of services on the Charing Cross site, was recommended by the JCPCT in early 2013.
The decisions of the JCPCT were then referred to the Secretary of State who asked the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP) to look at the proposals. On the advice of the IRP, in October 2013, the Secretary of State supported the proposals in full, adding that Charing Cross Hospital should continue to offer an A&E service, even if it was a different shape or size to that currently offered. He also made clear that there would need to be further engagement to develop detailed proposals for Charing Cross.
Our subsequent work to engage patients and the public in the development of detailed plans for Charing Cross was paused as increasing demand for acute hospital services highlighted the need to focus first on the development of new models of care to help people stay healthy and avoid unnecessary and lengthy inpatient admissions. Our approach of actively not progressing plans to reduce acute capacity at Charing Cross unless and until we could achieve a reduction in acute demand was formalised in the North West London Sustainability and Transformation Plan published in 2016. The plan made a firm commitment that Charing Cross will continue to provide its current A&E and wider services for at least the lifetime of the plan, which runs until April 2021. We also made the commitment to work jointly with staff, communities and councils on the design and implementation of new models of care.
Our commitment to Charing Cross is demonstrated further in the £8m we invested last year – to refurbish urgent and emergency care wards, theatres, outpatient clinics and lifts and to create a patient service centre and the main new facility for North West London Pathology. And in the further, significant investments we are planning for this year.
You have consistently failed to acknowledge any changes in our approach to Charing Cross since the original public consultation on proposed service changes for North West London. This is demonstrated most clearly by your latest mailing to local residents which included a copy of outline service proposals published five years ago.
In response to your detailed questions about how and why we shared our complaint to you in March, we felt we had no choice but to make it public. This was entirely a decision of the Trust and CCG leadership. Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to send materials directly to every house in the borough. We published our letter to you on our websites on 28th March 2017, the day after it had been sent to you and with full disclosure of our approach, to help allay unnecessary public concern. Unsurprisingly, there has been follow up media interest in our exchanges which our communications teams have responded to, as appropriate.
Concern about changes to local health services is entirely valid and understandable. Far from wishing to prevent debate, we encourage and welcome open discussion, especially with patients and the public.
We have to create a shared understanding of the huge challenges we are facing in the NHS – and social care – if we are to address them effectively. We very much wish to work with all of our local authorities as key partners in this endeavour but it is only possible if the considered and honest opinions of our organisations, including those of our senior clinicians, are not actively misrepresented.
Dr Tracey Batten
CWHHE Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trus
SRO – Shaping a Healthier Future