Ravenscourt Park Ward leads the way on proton beam therapy

ravenscourthospRavenscourt Park Hospital closed in 2006 but now there are exciting plans for it to reopen in 2017.

It is to become the first in the UK to offer proton beam therapy for cancer patients.

The treatment involves firing beams of proton at a tumour to destroy cancerous cells. The beams stop once they hit the cancerous cell, causing less damage to surrounding tissue than conventional radiotherapy, which makes treatment is especially well suited to children with brain tumours.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

“This is a tremendous vote of confidence in London’s thriving life sciences sector as well as the skills and talent of our amazing healthcare professionals.”

VPS Healthcare plan this as their first hospital in Britain. There will be 150 beds and around 2,000 new members.

Dr Shamsheer Vayalil, an Indian entrepreneur who founded VPS, says:

“The UK has one of the strongest and most productive medical research sectors in the world, contributing to patient well-being, as well as supporting breakthroughs in science and driving economic growth.

“It has a worldwide reputation for excellence in innovation within its universities and is recognised for producing world-class scientists and clinicians.

“VPS Healthcare has been encouraged by the UK government’s ongoing policy to support health and pharmaceutical companies and we believe that our investment in this dynamic sector will not only ensure that we play a key role in supporting this initiative, but will also help to grow and develop the next generation of medical breakthroughs.”

The hospital was opened by George V in 1933. It won an award for RIBA as the best building that year – despite that I don’t think it is too bad.

There have been various incarnations as a Masonic, private and NHS hospital.

Let’s hope the best is yet to come.


NHS Trust confirms plans for brand new Charing Cross Hospital

handsnhsLast week, Greg Hands, the Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, welcomed senior management of the Imperial College NHS Trust to the House of Commons.

Greg called the meeting to get the latest on the plans for a new Charing Cross Hospital on the existing site on Fulham Palace Road.

Following the meeting, the Chief Executive of the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, Dr Tracy Batten, has written to Greg to provide an update on the Trust’s plans for a new Charing Cross Hospital on the same site in Fulham Palace Road.

Highlights for the site’s plans include the following:

  • £150 million redevelopment
  • A wide range of specialist and planned care, including: day case surgery and treatment, one-stop diagnostic clinics, outpatients, chemotherapy, and renal dialysis
  • Integrated care and rehabilitation services, especially for elderly people and those with chronic conditions
  • An Emergency Centre
  • Existing partner services to be co-located, including mental health and cancer support

As well as a redevelopment of the Charing Cross site, the Trust’s strategy proposes a significant redevelopment of the St Mary’s site, and a smaller redevelopment of the Hammersmith site (where Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital would remain co-located).

The Trust has a made a bid for capital investment to fund the proposals, which is currently awaiting approval by the North West London Clinical Commissioning Groups of GPs (CCGs). Once approved the plans will go to NHS England and the NHS Trust Development Authority for consideration.

The Trust anticipate milestones to include approval of the outline plan in 2015/16, and approval for the final plans in 2016/17. This would then enable a three-year construction programme to begin, which is currently expected to last until the end of 2020/21.

Greg Hands, said:

“It was helpful to meet Dr Batten and her team, to hear first-hand about their plans for the redevelopment and rebuilding of Charing Cross Hospital. The public will welcome the Trust being able to lay out some more detail of their vision.

“Charing Cross is an excellent and valued hospital, with which I have deep personal ties. The rebuilding will leave it capable of providing even better services in the future, becoming a leading centre of excellence for elective surgery.

“In contrast to some misinformation from other sources, the Trust has confirmed to me personally that it is proposing a brand-new hospital with Accident & Emergency. And whilst it is true that the concrete tower block which is no longer fit for purpose will be demolished, this will be only after the new and improved hospital is up and running.

“The local Labour Party has been deliberately spreading misinformation and scaremongering about the fate of the hospital. Andrew Slaughter MP and Labour have repeatedly told residents, wrongly, that the hospital and its A&E department is to close.

“Only this week, Mr Slaughter has put leaflets through resident’s doors clamming that ‘Charing Cross Hospital remains under threat of demolition’, without any reference to the new hospital on the same site. He has been told directly by both the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister that he is not telling local people the whole truth, and now he has it from the doctors of the hospital, and no less than the Chief Executive.

“I hope now that Mr Slaughter will stop his misleading campaign, and start representing his constituents responsibly, instead of continuing to try and spread fear and score points out of an issue on which he is plainly wrong.”

Charing Cross Hospital outpatients judged “inadequate” – as was St Mary’s A&E

The chief inspector of hospitals has recently reported on local hospitals Care Quality Commission. The report on Queen Charlotte’s in Du Cane Road concludes it is “good”.

However Hammersmith Hospital, Charing Cross and St Mary’s Paddington are each given the verdict “requires improvement”.

Within those overall judgments there are some wide variations. For instance the A&E at Charing Cross was rated “good” while the Oupatients service was judged “inadequate”.

For St Mary’s the Critical Care and Maternity and gynaecology were both rated “good” but the A&E “inadequate.”

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Dr Tracey Batten said:

“While we are disappointed with our overall rating of ‘requires improvement’, we think the report is extremely constructive. It clearly sets out our challenges while also recognising the positive impact of our work over the past year and highlighting the great care that we already provide.

“We acknowledge that there are a few areas, such as cleanliness in St Mary’s A&E, that have simply not been acceptable and there can be no excuse for that. But we want to assure patients that this is the exception and that we have acted immediately to address the most pressing issues raised. For example, we have already put in extra staff support and refurbished the A&E at St Mary’s Hospital – with new flooring and lighting, more sinks and additional cleaning rotas. The CQC has now re-inspected St Mary’s A&E and has confirmed that the required improvements have been made.”

The Labour MP for Hammersmith Andrew Slaughter highlighted the contrasting verdicts on the A&E departments and saying it showed plans to close the A&E at Charing Cross are wrong. The problem with this point is that there are no such plan. The NHS have made clear that there will continue to be a full A&E department at Charing Cross. Mr Slaughter is full aware of this yet he persists with spreading the allegation. That makes him a liar.

But there is another point. The good news is that the local NHS failings have been exposed, detailed recommendations published to put them right and those measures are being taken – or indeed have already been taken.

How has this come about? How do we know what is going on? It is because this Government introduced this level of transparency. They introduced the post of Chief Inspector of Hospitals to act as whistleblower-in-chief and produce these reports. That came about after the scandal at Mid Staffs Hospital – when the mentality was one of “cover up” rather than facing up to problems and dealing with them. Disgracefully poor care continued for years because of a lack of transparency and accountability. That was the way the NHS was run when Andy Burnham was Health Secretary.

Andrew Slaughter voted against the legislation last year to establish a chief inspector of hospitals who could provide independent information about the quality of services. Now he is quoting from information that would have been suppressed had he won that vote. He should apologise for that desist from his scaremongering. No matter how frequently he repeats it that doesn’t make the lie about the Charing Cross A&E closing true.

Andrew Brown: We can’t trust Labour to tell the truth about the NHS

andrewbrownGuest post from Cllr Andrew Brown

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.

Cllr Lucy Ivimy: The Conservatives fought effectively for a better Charing Cross Hospital

ivimyA guest post from Cllr Lucy Ivimy

The old, and still current in many cases, model of the A&E department at your nearest hospital was that it would be staffed at night and the weekend by someone called an A&E consultant who was basically a general surgeon with some specialist emergency training.

He could deal effectively with the great majority of people and injuries turning up at A&E. But if you turned up at the weekend with a stroke, a serious heart attack, a smashed skull, or been run over by a bus he would do his best to patch you up until Monday morning for the serious specialists to do their job. People died.

People who would have been saved if they had had specialist surgery immediately, died. It is called the weekend effect.

The NHS started some years ago setting up specialist units to counter the worst of the weekend death toll. The major trauma centre at St Mary’s Paddington is one of a small number in London staffed by specialists round the clock. The ambulance knows to take you there if you have a smashed skull and the brain surgeon will deal with it immediately. This has saved many many lives.

The brilliant Charing Cross stroke unit will start specialist remedial treatment immediately so your chances of walking out rather than being pushed out, crippled, in a wheelchair, are hugely higher.

Survival rates for heart attacks have gone up by 40% since ambulances take you straight to the specialist heart unit at Hammersmith Hospital.

The NHS ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ proposals were designed to take this one step further, so that all life threatening conditions would be automatically taken to a major specialist emergency centre with the full range of specialist consultants on duty twenty four hours a day seven days a week. For minor emergencies, which is about 80% of all the people who currently turn up at A&Es, the nearest hospital would still deal with it.

But the NHS made three serious mistakes:

  • First, they failed to explain clearly what they were doing and why
  • Second, they refused to allow anything except these new ‘super’ A&Es to call themselves that, so everything thought that they were withdrawing all accident and emergency services from many hospitals – and even now they still can’t decide how to define an A&E
  • And, catastrophically, they decided that on the back of the A&E changes they would close virtually the whole of Charing Cross.

Clearly, we could not agree to that.

But as an administration, during the course of the intense scrutiny of the consultation period, we realised that we were going to lose the argument with the NHS to make Charing Cross the major A&E – despite its better geographic location than Chelsea & Westminster, which was the alternative.

So we set about trying to save everything else at Charing Cross that would otherwise have been closed. All the specialist clinics where so many people go for superb treatment. I believe that we succeeded as well as was possible at that stage, and extracted from the NHS a further proposal – call it the Enhanced Option – which they unveiled to the Joint NorthWest London Scrutiny Committee in Febuary 2013:

  • We saved the full range of diagnostic facilities, including MRI scanners, computer imaging, endoscopy, ECG and ultrasound.
  • We saved the cancer clinic, with cancer diagnostics, chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment.
  • We saved the Maggie’s Centre.
  • We saved the West London Sexual Health clinic – which does fantastic work with FGM victims
  • We saved the Mental Health Clinic.
  • We saved the Imperial College teaching facilities.

The essence of all this was formally agreed at the February 2013 meeting of the JCPCT (Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts) which was the formal commissioning body, where this enhanced option together with the original basic option was formally agreed as a single package.

However the latest proposals seem to represent a step backwards. I am personally very disappointed.  I acknowledge these latest plans are still hugely better than the total closure we were originally faced with. But they do appear to represent a retreat from what was agreed last year. We need urgent assurances as to their implications.