Labour’s scaremongering about Charing Cross hospital undermines democracy

Cllr Caroline ffiske writes:

Last week local residents started contacting me because they had received a Labour election leaflet claiming that the Conservatives plan to “bulldoze” Charing Cross Hospital.  The leaflet depicted Conservatives as the Grim Reaper – a bringer of death.  The depiction of Conservatives as the grim reaper is deeply offensive to myself and my colleagues.  So much for Labour promising kinder and gentler politics.

Below I have set out an update on Charing Cross hospital and present our commitment to local residents on Charing Cross Hospital.  But please bear with me while I make two more comments on the Labour leaflet.

Labour’s Leaflet scares vulnerable people and undermines democracy.

Firstly, some people have contacted me as a result of this leaflet, actually scared that the hospital might close.  These are people who use the hospital and are scared about what they would do  – some of them, older and vulnerable people.  The fact that Labour is happy to casually scare people like this, in order to win votes, is in my view, callous.  So much for concern for vulnerable individuals.

Secondly, if local parties don’t stick to the truth, and enable voters to make up their own mind about the different parties’ policies and priorities then you don’t really have a democracy.  Misrepresenting your political opponents with such a cavalier disregard for the truth undermines democracy.  And where do we go from there?

Most recent update on Charing Cross Hospital

This dates from January this year and is an official presentation made by the “Imperial College HealthCare NHS Trust” to local council authorities.

Please read the detail here starting page 14/15.  I would be pleased to hear your thoughts on all the detail. Some important quotes:

“We have recently seen some of our largest ever investments in new facilities and equipment at Charing Cross Hospital, much of which has been made possible by the support of Imperial Health Charity… 

Over the past 18 months, some £6 million has been spent on major new developments including: Riverside theatres; main outpatient clinics; a new acute medical assessment unit; our first patient service centre; and the main new facility for North West London Pathology.

In addition, we are spending almost another £8 million on replacing imaging equipment and installing two state-of-the-art LINAC radiotherapy machines so we can provide the most advanced cancer treatments…

As part of our investment in urgent and emergency care services and theatres at Charing Cross, we have co-located our acute medicine beds on the ground floor of the hospital, near to the A&E department, and closer to the imaging department. This has enabled medical patients to be admitted more quickly.

In addition, we are currently working up a multi-million pound refurbishment and expansion of the A&E department at Charing Cross, to begin in the early part of 2018. The likely timescales however, mean that the improvements will impact after the current winter period…

The Trust and local commissioners… have put a hold on subsequent work to engage patients and the public in the development of detailed plans for Charing Cross due to increasing demand for acute hospital services…

A commitment to not progress 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 (STP) published in 2016 …”

Our commitment to you on Charing Cross Hospital

Firstly, we commit to bringing you accurate and sourced information.    We will monitor Imperial Trust’s reports and publications and get relevant items out to you.

Secondly, we will consult you.  I think the Cycle Superhighway planned for Hammersmith is an good example of our approach here.  Our first leaflet on this matter was entirely neutral and simply pointed local residents to the information – something TfL with their huge budgets had largely failed to do.  We spent many hours leafleting local streets simply to get information to local people so they could make up their own minds.

Thirdly, we will represent you.  If and when Imperial Trust comes out with a new round of proposals and consultation we will be led by what local people think.  It is entirely evident to all of us that residents regard our local hospitals as hugely important.  But the details of any plans are also important and we will seek to transmit to you these details, and then to understand, and then represent your views.

Above all, I expect almost everyone reading this and all the local Conservatives will fight to retain, upgrade, and improve our local hospitals.

Thank you for reading and all comments and feedback, as ever, appreciated.  Email me at carolineffiske@gmail.com.

Charing Cross Hospital pledges expansion of the A&E Department – but patients want clarity for the future

An independent charity called Healthwatch Central West London has produced an interesting report on Charing Cross Hospital asking the NHS for greater clarity about the future. Research included interviews with 218 outpatients. There was a high level of satisfaction with the hospital and a range of opinions on various matters – for instance on whether any services should be switched from the hospital to  GP surgeries.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has stated that there will be no changes until at least 2021. But after that there is a possibility of it becoming a “local hospital”. If it did, do patients feel that their “health needs would be fully met”? Among the residents taking part in the survey, 17 said yes (30.36 per cent) eight said maybe (14.29 per cent) 27 said no (48.21 per cent) and another four (7.14 per cent) declined to answer. Understandably a lot of people wanted to know what a “local hospital” would mean.

Healthwatch Central West London asked what the definition was and the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust responded:

“The consultation document (August 2012) for the plans to improve local NHS services in North West London as part of the SaHF programme, identified eight different settings for care. Section 10 of the consultation described a ‘Local hospital’ as follows: “Local hospital – this type of hospital provides all the most common things people need hospitals for, such as less severe injuries and less severe urgent care, nonlife threatening illnesses, care for most long-term conditions such as diabetes and asthma, and diagnostic services. It basically provides the kinds of services that most people going to hospital in NW London currently go there for.”

The NHS Trust does also say, in a tortuous phrase:

“Our approach of actively not progressing plans to reduce acute capacity at Charing Cross Hospital unless and until we could achieve a reduction in acute demand.”

As Charing Cross Hospital has been coping with an “increasing demand for acute hospital services” it would seem unlikely that would change any time soon.

However the NHS does argue that cutting the number of beds could be a measure of success:

“Over 30 per cent of inpatient beds in acute hospitals are occupied by patients whose care would be better provided elsewhere in their own home or community. Clinical audits regularly show that over 30 per cent of patients in an acute hospital bed do not need acute care. It is best for patients if they are able to return home at the optimal time for them, to be subsequently cared for in the most appropriate setting, preferably their own homes…..

“Charing Cross Hospital currently has just over 400 inpatient and day-case beds. Successful programmes have shown that high-quality interventions that support patients before they become acutely unwell can reduce non-elective admissions and slow progression of a disease. This can contribute to a reduction in overall care costs through the removal of acute beds when out-of-hospital solutions are in place. It does not necessarily mean planning to treat fewer people – it means treating people in a different way or different place.”

In another report the NHS Trust says:

“We have recently seen some of our largest ever investments in new facilities and equipment at Charing Cross Hospital, much of which has been made possible by the support of Imperial Health Charity.

“Over the past 18 months, some £6 million has been spent on major new developments including: Riverside theatres; main outpatient clinics; a new acute medical assessment unit; our first patient service centre; and the main new facility for North West London Pathology. In addition, we are spending almost another £8 million on replacing imaging equipment and installing two state-of-the-art LINAC radiotherapy machines so we can provide the most advanced cancer treatments.

“And our maintenance spend at Charing Cross this year is another nearly £6 million, around a third of our total Trust spend on backlog maintenance.

“As part of our investment in urgent and emergency care services and theatres at Charing Cross, we have co-located our acute medicine beds on the ground floor of the hospital, near to the A&E department, and closer to the imaging department. This has enabled medical patients to be admitted more quickly.

“In addition, we are currently working up a multi-million pound refurbishment and expansion of the A&E department at Charing Cross, to begin in the early part of 2018. The likely timescales however, mean that the improvements will impact after the current winter period.”

On its own website the NHS Trust says:

“Since 2016, we’ve committed over £20 million for building improvements and new imaging and radiotherapy equipment at Charing Cross.  

“We’ve also developed new services and employed extra doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff. More investment is already planned for 2018 and 2019, including a refurbishment and expansion of the A&E department.”

That report also says:

“We can currently predict that it will be some years into the future before acute demand has reduced sufficiently for us to look to reduce inpatient bed numbers or A&E capacity.”

2021 is not very far away. It would be good to have a clear guarantee that the A&E will continue and that the hospital will not be downgraded after that date. I am as confused by the convoluted jargon and changing messages from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust as anyone else. But the fact that the A&E is currently being expanded is very welcome and clearly an encouraging sign for the future.

 

Hammersmith & Fulham residents benefit from improved GP services

Local GPs are reminding residents in Hammersmith & Fulham that it is easier to make a GP appointment at a time that suits them, including evenings, weekends and bank holidays.

Residents can pre-book GP appointments from 8am-8pm seven days a week and practice nurse appointments on weekday evenings and Saturdays.

These hours are in addition to existing GP services, meaning that residents now have access to primary care from 8am-8pm seven days a week.

Any patient registered with a Hammersmith & Fulham GP can access these appointments at three practices across the borough. Appointments can be booked at any one of these practices through your local GP practice or by calling NHS 111 when your GP practice is closed.

This means Hammersmith & Fulham residents can make an appointment with a GP or nurse at a time and in a place that is convenient for them.

This offering improves GP services as well as:

  • Improves patient experience
  • reduces avoidable A&E visits and unscheduled hospital admissions.

Dr James Cavanagh, Vice Chairman for the Hammersmith & Fulham Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“Our aim is to make GP services safer and more accessible for all. We are delighted to announce these positive changes. Previously, patients have told us that they were concerned about the lack of access to GP and nurse appointments. By increasing access to these services we are responding to concerns.”

For more information or to book an appointment with a GP or nurse please contact your local GP practice or call NHS 111

You can book an appointment from your own practice with a GP at 3 practices across the borough in the evening or at the weekend.

During your practice’s opening hours, you can call and book an appointment at one of these sites for an evening or weekend appointment.

On Saturdays, at all sites, pre-bookable Practice Nurse appointments are also available which can be booked through the patient’s registered GP practice.

Brook Green Medical Centre
Bute Gardens
London, W6 7EG

Opening Times:
Monday – Friday: 18:30 – 20:00
Saturday:08:00 – 20:00
Sunday: 08:00 – 20:00

Cassidy Medical Centre
651a Fulham Road
Fulham
London, SW6 5PX

Opening Times:
Monday-Friday: 18:30 – 20:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 15:00
Sunday: 09:00 – 15:00

Parkview Practice (Dr Canisius & Dr Hasan)
Parkview Centre for Health & Wellbeing
Cranston Court
56 Bloemfontein Road
Hammersmith
London, W12 7FG

Opening Times:
Monday – Friday: 18:30 – 20:00
Saturday: 09:00 – 17:30
Sunday: 09:00 – 13:00

NHS rebut latest Labour scaremongering about Charing Cross Hospital

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.     
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
Dr Tracey Batten      

Chief Executive

CWHHE  Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trus

Clare Parker  

Chief Officer

SRO – Shaping a Healthier Future 

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.

Why does Hammersmith and Fulham Council ban vaping?

Research has established that there are no health risks from “passive vaping”. There is no law against vaping in public places. It is a highly effective method for smokers to give up. Yet Hammersmith and Fulham Council bans vaping on its premises – without being able to give any proper justification for doing so.

I wrote to Debbie Morris, the Director of Human Resources as follows:

“I was concerned to see from this FOI response that “staff and visitors are expected to vape outside” from Council premises.

https://www.apps7b.lbhf.gov.uk/cus/servlet/ep.getImg?ref=D387184&st=NOHEADER&auth=10051

Please note that Public Health England argue that we should make a distinction between smoking and vaping.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vaping-in-public-places-advice-for-employers-and-organisations

I would propose that council staff should be encouraged to give up smoking by being allowed to vape from their desks. Please may I have your comments.”

She replied:

“Thank you for your email dated 7th November. In response to your query ‘that council staff should be encouraged to give up smoking by being allowed to vape from their desks.’

“Vaping is covered under the same restrictions as cigarette smoking under the current workplace policy. All policies are regularly reviewed according to latest evidence. HR and Public Health are committed to a joined up tri-borough approach and policies relating to vaping will be reviewed jointly due to the rapidly emerging evidence base.”

H&F Council refuses to back defibrillators scheme

shaun-bailey-100x100Some residents may remember that Shaun Bailey was the Conservative candidate for Hammersmith in the 2010 General Election. Unfortunately he didn’t make it but the good news is that this year he was elected a member of the London Assembly and he has already produced an important report about saving lives for Londoners.

He says:

“Placing defibrillators in disused and redundant phone boxes is a fantastic way of getting life-saving devices into highly visible and easily accessible locations.  My research found 10,211 people suffered a cardiac arrest in London in 2014/15 and, despite the London Ambulance Service having some of the best performance ratings in the country, survival rates remain as low as nine per cent.”

The cost would be relatively modest and Hammersmith and Fulham Council has a huge annual Public Health budget of £22.7 million which is overwhelmingly wasted. So I wrote to the Council’s Director of Public Health Mike Robinson proposing that the Council back the scheme:

Mike,
Please advise:
1. Whether your team provides any training in secondary schools for pupils in First Aid and specifically cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using Automated External Defibrillators.

2. Whether there are any plans to fund from your budget the adaption of redundant telephone boxes in Hammersmith and Fulham for defibrillators. I gather BT offer a scheme of selling the phone box for a pound and the cost of installing the defibrillator is around £1,000.

My questions were prompted by reading this report which provides more
background:
http://glaconservatives.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Never-miss-a-beat.pdf

Best wishes,
Harry

The reply I got was as follows:

Dear Cllr Phibbs,

Thank you for your enquiry regarding the potential use of public health budget to support initiatives for increasing the availability of and the training in the use of defibrillators in community settings.

Although this is clearly an initiative that has been found to have some benefit in aiding in the acute response to cardiac arrests, and is something that has had recent Government support as well as from organisations such as the British Heart Foundation, available public health budget is currently targeted where possible on primary prevention and not for acute response.

Therefore, in response to your questions:

1.This is not something the public health budget is currently used to support and therefore no public health funded initiatives currently take place that support or provide training in secondary schools for pupils in First Aid and specifically cardiopulmonary resuscitation and using Automated External Defibrillators.

2.There are currently no plans to use the public health budget to fund the adaptation of redundant telephone boxes in Hammersmith and Fulham for defibrillators.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss further.

Regards

Mike Robinson

A very disappointing response. Really just a policy of inertia. The challenge should be for the £22.7 million to save as many lives as possible. But the Council just leaves the bureaucrats to drift along while the councillors supposedly in charge collect their allowances. A terrible failure of leadership.